Microhabitat heterogeneity promotes soil fertility and ground-dwelling arthropod diversity in Mediterranean wood-pastures

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Microhabitat heterogeneity promotes soil fertility and ground-dwelling arthropod diversity in Mediterranean wood-pastures

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Title: Microhabitat heterogeneity promotes soil fertility and ground-dwelling arthropod diversity in Mediterranean wood-pastures
Author: García-Tejero, Sergio;Taboada Palomares, Ángela
xmlui.dri2xhtml.METS-1.0.item-contributor: Facultad de Ciencias Biologicas y Ambientales
xmlui.dri2xhtml.METS-1.0.item-area: Ecologia
Abstract: Mediterranean wood-pastures are extensive agroforestry systems that hold great ecological, social and cultural values, which consist of mixtures of grassland, scattered trees and shrubs, primarily used for livestock grazing. For centuries, low-intensity management in these landscapes has resulted in multiple microhabitats that favour biodiversity and are considered key elements for the long-term persistence of wood-pastures. However, the relative contribution of each microhabitat type to wood-pasture biodiversity and functioning remains poorly studied. We investigated the impact that different wood-pasture microhabitats have on soil chemical fertility and the decomposition food web. We analysed the two main microhabitats that make wood-pastures up – open grasslands and isolated trees – and three additional “litter-trapping” microhabitats – shrubs scattered in the grassland matrix, canopied shrubs and piles of pruning debris—in terms of soil chemical properties (organic matter content, total N, C:N ratio, available P, and exchangeable base cations), collembolan and dipteran (mostly detritivores) abundance, and carabid (seed-eaters and predators) and staphylinid (mostly predators) beetle abundance, body size, biomass, species richness and composition. Grasslands were the most different microhabitats, with the lowest soil nutrient content and particular carabid and staphylinid species composition. Trees had the highest soil fertility levels and abundance of Diptera and staphylinids, and held unique staphylinid assemblages. “Litter-trapping” microhabitats had medium to high soil nutrient values and shared a distinct staphylinid assemblage compared to grasslands and trees. Besides, scattered shrubs provided shelter for large-sized carabid and staphylinid predators, while canopied shrubs held the highest carabid abundance and biomass. “Litter-trapping” microhabitats retained tree leaves that would otherwise be lost to the wood-pasture, recovering nutrients to the system, and provided new habitat, shelter and food for detritivores and unique predator assemblages. “Litter-trapping” microhabitats thus enhanced soil fertility and the decomposition process, at the same time as increased the abundance and diversity of the communities of ground-dwelling detritivores and predators inhabiting wood-pastures. These findings confirmed that microhabitat heterogeneity resulting from low-intensity management is essential to maintain both the primary production and the biodiversity conservation value of wood-pastures.
xmlui.dri2xhtml.METS-1.0.item-desfisica: P. 192-201
xmlui.dri2xhtml.METS-1.0.item-peerreviewed: SI
Publisher: Elsevier
xmlui.dri2xhtml.METS-1.0.item-citation: Agriculture, ecosystems & environment, 2016, vol. 233
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10612/7436
Date: 2016-10-03
xmlui.dri2xhtml.METS-1.0.item-tipo: info:eu-repo/semantics/article
Subject: Ecología. Medio ambiente
xmlui.dri2xhtml.METS-1.0.item-palclave: Decomposition food web
Leaf litter
Livestock grazing
Low-intensity management
Soil chemical properties
xmlui.dri2xhtml.METS-1.0.item-accessRights: info:eu-repo/semantics/openAccess
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