Date: 20 Jul 2013

Mites in Soil and Litter Systems

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Abstract

People, like other large terrestrial mammals, tread the surface of the Earth and we know best the aboveground half of the ecosystems we inhabit. Forests, grasslands, meadows, fields, deserts and cities squat on the surface of the earth, but each has its shadow existence belowground. Less than half of the energy fixed by the sun is respired by the plants, animals and microbes that live aboveground: most falls into the living system we call soil (Macfadyen 1963). Soils are well known for their extraordinary biological diversity (Wardle 2006) and, more than any other habitat, this largely belowground system is the empire of mites.