Plant and Soil

, Volume 115, Issue 2, pp 241–245 | Cite as

Role of soil animals in C and N mineralisation

  • T. Persson


Addition of single species of soil animals to animal-free microcosms often increases total heterotrophic respiration, but sometimes additions of microarthropods have been reported not to increase or even decrease CO2 evolution rates. Most studies indicate that addition of soil animals increases net N mineralisation. In a study with F/H layer materials from a spruce stand in central Sweden kept at two temperatures (5 and 15°C) and three moisture levels (15, 30 and 60% of WHC), addition of a mixed fauna of soil arthropods, mainly microarthropods, could not be shown to change the CO2 evolution rates in comparison with materials where arthropods were absent. However, addition of the arthropods significantly increased net N mineralisation for each of the temperature and moisture combinations. The increase due to the arthropods was dependent on soil temperature but not on soil moisture. Because the total net N mineralisation decreased with decreasing soil moisture, the soil arthropods had a much larger relative effect on net N mineralisation under dry than under moist conditions. It is concluded that soil arthropods are important in maintaining net N mineralisation under dry conditions when the microflora is largely inactive. The microbial/faunal release of mineral N is discussed in relation to the C∶N of the substrate.

Key words

C mineralisation microarthropods microcosm N mineralisation soil animals soil arthropods 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Anderson J M, Ineson P and Huish S A 1983 Nitrogen and cation mobilization by soil fauna feeding on leaf litter and soil organic matter from deciduous woodlands. Soil Biol. Biochem. 15, 463–467.Google Scholar
  2. Andrén O and Schnürer J 1985 Barley straw decomposition with varied levels of microbial grazing byFolsomia fimetaria (L.) (Collembola, Isotomidae). Oecologia (Berlin) 68, 57–62.Google Scholar
  3. Axelsson B, Lohm U and Persson T 1984 Enchytraeids, lumbricids and soil arthropods in a northern deciduous woodland—a quantitative study. Holarct. Ecol. 7, 91–103.Google Scholar
  4. Bevan W J 1962 Observations on damage to grassland in East Yorkshire by larvae of the common leaf weevil,Phyllobius pyri L. and notes on its biology. J. Brit. Grassl. Soc. 17, 194–197.Google Scholar
  5. Clarholm M 1985 Interactions of bacteria, protozoa and plants leading to mineralization of soil nitrogen. Soil Biol. Biochem. 17, 181–187.Google Scholar
  6. Coleman D C, Anderson R V, Cole C V, Elliott E T, Woods L and Campion M K 1978 Trophic interactions in soils as they affect energy and nutrient dynamics. IV. Flows of metabolic and biomass carbon. Microbial Ecology 4, 373–380.Google Scholar
  7. Coleman D C, Sasson A, Breymeyer A I, Dash M C, Dommergues Y, Hunt H W, Paul E A, Schaefer R, Ulehlová B and Zlotin R I 1980 Decomposer subsystem.In Grasslands, Systems Analysis and Man. Eds. A I Breymeyer and G M Van Dyne. International Biological Programme 19, pp. 609–655. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.Google Scholar
  8. Coleman D C, Reid C P P and Cole C V 1983 Biological strategies of nutrient cycling in soil systems. Adv. Ecol. Res. 13, 1–55.Google Scholar
  9. Coulson J C and Whittaker J B 1978 Ecology of moorland animals.In Production Ecology of British Moors and Montane Grasslands. Eds. O W Heal and D F Perkins. Ecol. Stud. 27, 52–93. Springer-Verlag, Berlin.Google Scholar
  10. Ellenberg H, Mayer R and Schauermann J 1986 Ökosystemforschung —Ergebnisse des Sollingprojekts 1966–1986. Ulmer, Stuttgart, 507 ppGoogle Scholar
  11. Griffiths B S 1986 Mineralization of nitrogen and phosphorus by mixed cultures of the ciliate protozoanColpoda steinii, the nematodeRhabditis sp. and the bacteriumPseudomonas fluorescens. Soil Biol. Biochem. 18, 637–641.Google Scholar
  12. Hanlon R D G and Anderson J M 1979 The effects of collembola grazing on microbial activity in decomposing leaf litter. Oecologia (Berl.) 38, 93–99.Google Scholar
  13. Hanlon R D G and Anderson J M 1980 Influence of macroarthropod feeding activities on microflora in decomposing oak leaves. Soil Biol. Biochem. 12, 255–261.Google Scholar
  14. Huhta V and Koskenniemi A 1975 Numbers, biomass and community respiration of soil invertebrates in spruce forests at two latitudes in Finland. Ann. Zool. Fennici 12, 164–182.Google Scholar
  15. Ineson P, Leonard M A and Anderson J M 1982 Effect of collembolan grazing upon nitrogen and cation leaching from decomposing leaf litter. Soil Biol. Biochem. 14, 601–605.Google Scholar
  16. Jansson P E 1977 Soil properties at Ivantjärnsheden. Swed. Conif. For. Proj., Int. Rep. 54, 66 pp.Google Scholar
  17. Kitazawa Y 1971 Biological regionality of the soil fauna and its function in forest ecosystem types.In Productivity of Forest Ecosystems. Ed. P Duvigneaud. Proc. Brussels Symp. 1969, pp 485–498. Unesco, Paris.Google Scholar
  18. Persson T 1983 Influence of soil animals on nitrogen mineralisation in a northern Scots pine forest.In New Trends in Soil Biology. Eds. Ph Lebrunet al. Proc. 8th Int. Coll. Soil Zool., pp. 117–126.Google Scholar
  19. Persson T and Lohm U 1977 Energetical significance of the annelids and arthropods in a Swedish grassland soil. Ecol. Bull. (Stockholm) 23, 1–211.Google Scholar
  20. Persson, T, Bååth E, Clarholm M, Lundkvist H, Söderström B E and Sohlenius B 1980 Trophic structure, biomass dynamics and carbon metabolism of soil organisms in a Scots pine forest.In Structure and Function of Northern Coniferous Forests — An Ecosystem Study. Ed. T. Persson. Ecol. Bull. (Stockholm) 32, 419–459.Google Scholar
  21. Reichle D E 1977 The role of soil invertebrates in nutrient cycling.In Soil Organisms as Components of Ecosystems. Eds U Lohm and T Persson. Proc. 6th Int. Coll. Soil Zool., Ecol. Bull. (Stockholm) 25, 145–156.Google Scholar
  22. Salt G and Hollick F S J 1944 Studies of wireworm populations. I. A census of wireworms in pasture. Ann. Appl. Biol., 31, 52–64.Google Scholar
  23. Satchell J E 1971 Feasibility study of an energy budget for Meathop Wood.In Productivity of Forest Ecosystems. Ed. P. Duvigneaud. Proc. Brussels Symp. 1969, pp 619–630.Google Scholar
  24. Seastedt T R 1984 The role of microarthropods in decomposition and mineralization processes. Ann. Rev. Entomol. 29, 25–46.Google Scholar
  25. Setälä H, Haimi J and Huhta V 1988 A microcosm study on the respiration and weight loss in birch litter and raw humus as influenced by soil fauna. Biol. Fertil. Soils 5, 282–287.Google Scholar
  26. Standen V 1978 The influence of soil fauna on decomposition by micro-organisms in blanket bog litter. J. Anim. Ecol. 47, 25–38.Google Scholar
  27. Woods L E, Cole C V, Elliott E T, Anderson R V and Coleman D C 1982 Nitrogen transformations in soil as affected by bacterial-microfaunal interactions. Soil Biol. Biochem. 14, 93–98.Google Scholar
  28. Zlotin R I and Khodashova K S 1980 The role of animals in biological cycling of forest-steppe ecosystems. Dowden, Hutchinson & Ross, Stroudsburg, 221 p.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • T. Persson
    • 1
  1. 1.Dept of Ecology and Environmental ResearchSwedish University of Agricultural SciencesUppsalaSweden

Personalised recommendations