Soil Organisms and Their Habitat

  • Hans-Peter Blume
  • Gerhard W. Brümmer
  • Heiner Fleige
  • Rainer Horn
  • Ellen Kandeler
  • Ingrid Kögel-Knabner
  • Ruben Kretzschmar
  • Karl Stahr
  • Berndt-Michael Wilke


The edaphon comprises all organisms living in the soil. Based on the body diameter of the organisms, the edaphon is divided into the classifications microflora, microfauna, mesofauna and macrofauna. The body width of soil organisms largely determines their microhabitats (Fig. 4.1). Microflora (bacteria, archaea, fungi, algae) and microfauna (protozoa, nematodes) form the community of microorganisms in soils. Soil organisms influence soil formation (pedogenesis) directly (e.g. through burrowing activity and decomposition of organic matter) and indirectly (e.g. by feeding on plant roots). Soil microorganisms and soil fauna whose life cycle stages all take place in the soil, belong to the permanent soil organisms. Temporary soil fauna spend only part of their life cycle in the soil (e.g. insect larvae), while periodical fauna often leave the soil and then return. Alternating soil fauna alternate between aboveground and underground generations (Fig. 4.2). However, permanent soil organisms can also be spread through the atmosphere in resistant dormant forms (cysts, spores), or sorbed onto dust particles. Active or passive transport of soil organisms within the soil profile can take place as well.


Soil Microorganism Deep Soil Layer Soil Organism Soil Fauna Soil Tillage 
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Supplementary Reading

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hans-Peter Blume
    • 1
  • Gerhard W. Brümmer
    • 6
  • Heiner Fleige
    • 1
  • Rainer Horn
    • 1
  • Ellen Kandeler
    • 2
  • Ingrid Kögel-Knabner
    • 3
  • Ruben Kretzschmar
    • 4
  • Karl Stahr
    • 2
  • Berndt-Michael Wilke
    • 5
  1. 1.Institute of Plant Nutrition and Soil SciencesChristian-Albrechts-University zu KielKielGermany
  2. 2.Institute for Soil Science and Land EvaluationHohenheim UniversityStuttgartGermany
  3. 3.Chair of Soil ScienceTechnische Universität MünchenFreising-WeihenstephanGermany
  4. 4.Institute of Biogeochemistry and Pollutant DynamicsETH ZurichZurichSwitzerland
  5. 5.Institute of EcologyTechnical University BerlinBerlinGermany
  6. 6.Institute of Crop Science and Resource ConservationUniversity of BonnBonnGermany

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