Changes in soil oribatid communities associated with conversion from conventional to organic agriculture

M.A. Khalil, A.-N.I. Al-Assiuty, N.M. van Straalen, B.A. Al-Assiuty

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticle

Abstract

We investigated the effects of switching from conventional management to organic management on the abundance and community composition of soil-living oribatid mites in clover fields in an experimental agricultural station at Al-Fayoum, Egypt. The site had two adjacent fields with identical vegetation cover but different management. Fifteen random soil samples were collected monthly from each of three plots per field, from October to March. We characterized the soils with respect to various physicochemical variables as well as fungal community composition, and estimated mite densities through core sampling. Organic fields had a significantly more abundant oribatid community than did conventional fields. Also the abundance of soil fungi was greater in the organically managed field. Organic management promoted common oribatid mite species with a wide ecological amplitude that already had a high abundance where such common species are more responsive to changes in agricultural management. However, some species of mite responded indifferent or negative to the switch from conventional to organic management. Overall, the differences between the two ecological systems were mainly quantitative. Species diversities of both mite and fungal communities did not differ much between the two management systems. Diversity (H′) and equitability (E) of soil oribatid communities were higher in conventional plots than in the organic plots during the first 2 months but indistinguishable thereafter. Our study confirmed that organic management stimulates soil organic matter build-up, with positive effects on both fungal and oribatid mite abundance and possible long-term effects on soil function.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)183-196
JournalExperimental & Applied Acarology
Volume68
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2016

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