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Soil mesofauna and herbaceous vegetation patterns in an agroforestry landscape


Numerous studies have emphasised the ecological importance of linear and insular uncropped habitats, including forest shelterbelts, patches, and grassy margins. Usually, their biodiversity-enhancing effects are mentioned, mainly based on research in bird and above-ground arthropod communities, while the diversity of herbaceous vegetation and soil mesofauna is barely mentioned. Our research investigated the impact of six different habitats (cultivated areas, grassy field margins, shelterbelts and their grassy edges, forest and grassland patches) on soil-related diversity in an agroforestry landscape. We concentrated on the diversity and species composition of herbaceous and soil microarthropod communities, which sensitively indicate the effect of the structure and management of the different ecotones on ecological conditions. Our research found that both shelterbelts and grassy margins provide better habitats for major microarthropod groups than cultivated fields. Concerning shelterbelts of different tree species, QBS-ar showed better soil biological conditions in the belt dominated by the native field maple when compared to the non-native black locust. Collembola was more abundant inside the shelterbelts than in their edges, while diversity showed an opposite pattern. The soil fauna and coenology results reflect the importance of habitat variability in agroforestry landscape by increasing soil-related invertebrate and herbaceous communities' diversity.

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European Union’s Horizon 2020 No. 818346.

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Correspondence to Nóra Szigeti.

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Szigeti, N., Berki, I., Vityi, A. et al. Soil mesofauna and herbaceous vegetation patterns in an agroforestry landscape. Agroforest Syst 96, 773–786 (2022).

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  • Shelterbelt
  • Grassy edge
  • Herbaceous vegetation
  • Plant sociology
  • Soil biological quality
  • Collembola