Disturbance-diversity relationships for soil fauna are explained by faunal community biomass in a salt marsh

M.P. Thakur, M.P. Berg, N. Eisenhauer, Frank van Langevelde

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    Disturbance-diversity relationships have long been studied in ecology with a unimodal relationship as the key prediction. Although this relationship has been widely contested, it is rarely tested for soil invertebrate fauna, an important component of terrestrial biodiversity. We tested disturbance-diversity relationships for soil meso- and macrofauna in a salt marsh where periodic sea water inundation and cattle grazing occur as stressors. We hypothesized a unimodal inundation frequency-diversity relationship, whereas we expected grazing to overrule the effects of inundation frequency due to its large effects on the habitat of soil fauna. We found a negative relationship between inundation frequency and diversity at the ungrazed sites and no relationship at the grazed sites. Moreover, we found a negative relationship between community biomass and diversity for soil fauna that may have caused this negative disturbance-diversity relationship. Community biomass at the intermediate inundation frequency increased due to the dominance of Orchestia gammarellus (a macro-detritivore species), which could exploit low quality litters at the ungrazed sites. We highlight that the negative relationship between faunal community biomass and faunal diversity may influence disturbance-diversity relationships and illustrate that total biomass distribution of feeding guilds of soil fauna can improve our understanding of the soil fauna response to stressors in salt marshes. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)30-37
    JournalSoil Biology and Biochemistry
    Publication statusPublished - 2014


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