Extracting soil microarthropods with olive oil: A novel extraction method for mesofauna from sandy soils.

F.J.A. Kuenen, H. Venema, C.A.M. van Gestel, H.A. Verhoef

    Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


    Many soil ecologists still encounter practical difficulties when extracting microarthropods from the soil. Methods using a humidity gradient, established by the use of a heat source, for collecting soil animals appeared not sufficiently efficient in case of sandy soils. For such type of soils, flotation techniques proved more suitable. The use of toxic or aggressive flotation fluids like kerosene, dibromo ethane, carbon tetrachloride and heptane, however, makes these methods less favourable. To circumvent this problem, a novel technique has been developed based on the flotation principle but using olive oil. The method uses a pumping system that injects olive oil at the base of a Perspex column in which the soil sample is suspended in water using a propeller. In this way, intensive contact between oil droplets and the organisms is established, increasing extraction efficiency. After stopping the propeller, animals can easily be collected from the oil floating to the water surface. Adding coloured mites to soil samples was used to determine extraction efficiency of the method. Average (±SD) recoveries of 82.7 ± 7.4% (n = 34) and 89.7 ± 10.0% (n = 10), respectively were obtained when extracting storage mites and predatory mites from a sandy soil. © 2009 Elsevier Masson SAS. All rights reserved.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)496-500
    JournalEuropean Journal of Soil Biology
    Publication statusPublished - 2009


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