, Volume 153, Issue 3, pp 713–725 | Cite as

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

  • Adam J. VanbergenEmail author
  • Allan D. Watt
  • Ruth Mitchell
  • Anne-Marie Truscott
  • Stephen C. F. Palmer
  • Eva Ivits
  • Paul Eggleton
  • T. Hefin Jones
  • José Paulo Sousa
Community Ecology


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.


Biodiversity Collembola Earthworms Plants Remote-sensing Spatial heterogeneity Species diversity 



Thanks to C. Beaudoin, C. Dawson and B. Woodcock for assistance in the laboratory and field, D. Elston (Biomathematics and Statistics Scotland) for statistical advice, and L. Cole for valued comments. Thanks also to landowners for permission to work on their land, and to the late S. Hopkin for confirming Collembola species identification, as well as to the anonymous referees whose suggestions greatly improved this paper. The EU Framework Programme 5 funded this work (BioAssess research project EVK4-1999-00280).

Supplementary material

442_2007_766_MOESM1_ESM.doc (44 kb)
e-Appendix (DOC 44 KB)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Adam J. Vanbergen
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Allan D. Watt
    • 1
  • Ruth Mitchell
    • 1
  • Anne-Marie Truscott
    • 1
  • Stephen C. F. Palmer
    • 1
  • Eva Ivits
    • 3
  • Paul Eggleton
    • 4
  • T. Hefin Jones
    • 2
  • José Paulo Sousa
    • 5
  1. 1.Centre for Ecology and HydrologyBanchoryUK
  2. 2.Cardiff School of BiosciencesCardiff UniversityCardiffUK
  3. 3.Department of Remote Sensing and Land Information Systems (FELIS)University of FreiburgFreiburgGermany
  4. 4.Soil Biodiversity Group, Department of EntomologyThe Natural History MuseumLondonUK
  5. 5.Institute of Environment and Life SciencesUniversity of CoimbraCoimbraPortugal

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