, Volume 153, Issue 3, pp 713-725
Date: 31 May 2007

Scale-specific correlations between habitat heterogeneity and soil fauna diversity along a landscape structure gradient

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Abstract

Habitat heterogeneity contributes to the maintenance of diversity, but the extent that landscape-scale rather than local-scale heterogeneity influences the diversity of soil invertebrates—species with small range sizes—is less clear. Using a Scottish habitat heterogeneity gradient we correlated Collembola and lumbricid worm species richness and abundance with different elements (forest cover, habitat richness and patchiness) and qualities (plant species richness, soil variables) of habitat heterogeneity, at landscape (1 km2) and local (up to 200 m2) scales. Soil fauna assemblages showed considerable turnover in species composition along this habitat heterogeneity gradient. Soil fauna species richness and turnover was greatest in landscapes that were a mosaic of habitats. Soil fauna diversity was hump-shaped along a gradient of forest cover, peaking where there was a mixture of forest and open habitats in the landscape. Landscape-scale habitat richness was positively correlated with lumbricid diversity, while Collembola and lumbricid abundances were negatively and positively related to landscape spatial patchiness. Furthermore, soil fauna diversity was positively correlated with plant diversity, which in turn peaked in the sites that were a mosaic of forest and open habitat patches. There was less evidence that local-scale habitat variables (habitat richness, tree cover, plant species richness, litter cover, soil pH, depth of organic horizon) affected soil fauna diversity: Collembola diversity was independent of all these measures, while lumbricid diversity positively and negatively correlated with vascular plant species richness and tree canopy density. Landscape-scale habitat heterogeneity affects soil diversity regardless of taxon, while the influence of habitat heterogeneity at local scales is dependent on taxon identity, and hence ecological traits, e.g. body size. Landscape-scale habitat heterogeneity by providing different niches and refuges, together with passive dispersal and population patch dynamics, positively contributes to soil faunal diversity.

Communicated by Matthias Schaefer.