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Land-use and land-management change: relationships with earthworm and fungi communities and soil structural properties.

Spurgeon DJ, Keith AM, Schmidt O, Lammertsma DR, Faber JH - BMC Ecol. (2013)

Bottom Line: Here, we employ meta-analysis to provide a quantitative assessment of the effects of changes in land use and land management across a range of successional/extensification transitions (conventional arable → no or reduced tillage → grassland → wooded land) on community metrics for two functionally important soil taxa, earthworms and fungi.Not all changes, however, result in positive effects on the assessed community metrics.For example, increasing earthworm abundances and functional group composition were shown to be positively correlated with water infiltration rate (dependent on tillage regime and habitat characteristics); while positive changes in fungal biomass measures were positively associated with soil microaggregate stability.

View Article: PubMed Central - HTML - PubMed

Affiliation: Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Maclean Building, Benson Lane, Crowmarsh Gifford, Wallingford, Oxon OX10 8BB, UK. dasp@ceh.ac.uk.

ABSTRACT

Background: Change in land use and management can impact massively on soil ecosystems. Ecosystem engineers and other functional biodiversity in soils can be influenced directly by such change and this in turn can affect key soil functions. Here, we employ meta-analysis to provide a quantitative assessment of the effects of changes in land use and land management across a range of successional/extensification transitions (conventional arable → no or reduced tillage → grassland → wooded land) on community metrics for two functionally important soil taxa, earthworms and fungi. An analysis of the relationships between community change and soil structural properties was also included.

Results: Meta-analysis highlighted a consistent trend of increased earthworm and fungal community abundances and complexity following transitions to lower intensity and later successional land uses. The greatest changes were seen for early stage transitions, such as introduction of reduced tillage regimes and conversion to grassland from arable land. Not all changes, however, result in positive effects on the assessed community metrics. For example, whether woodland conversion positively or negatively affects community size and complexity depends on woodland type and, potentially, the changes in soil properties, such as pH, that may occur during conversion. Alterations in soil communities tended to facilitate subsequent changes in soil structure and hydrology. For example, increasing earthworm abundances and functional group composition were shown to be positively correlated with water infiltration rate (dependent on tillage regime and habitat characteristics); while positive changes in fungal biomass measures were positively associated with soil microaggregate stability.

Conclusions: These findings raise the potential to manage landscapes to increase ecosystem service provision from soil biota in relation to regulation of soil structure and water flow.

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Related in: MedlinePlus

Box plot of the effect size of earthworm population change in paired grassland and transitioned woodland plots classified to (a) categories based on time elapsed since conversion from arable to grassland and (b) woodland types.
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Figure 2: Box plot of the effect size of earthworm population change in paired grassland and transitioned woodland plots classified to (a) categories based on time elapsed since conversion from arable to grassland and (b) woodland types.

Mentions: Although no overall significant effect on woodland conversion was observed, sub-set analyses were nonetheless conducted to assess how age since transition (i.e. the age of tree stands) and woodland type (temperate deciduous, temperate coniferous, tropical, agroforestry) influence earthworm communities. For time since conversion, a linear model indicated no significant time associated trend for effect size (p > 0.05, R2 = 0.01). The absence of an effect of stand age was confirmed in an age class analysis (GLM F = 0.98, p > 0.05) (Figure 2a). The categorisation of studies into four forest types, temperate deciduous, temperate coniferous, tropical, and orchard/agroforestry indicated no significant influence of forest type on effect size (GLM F = 1.72, p > 0.05). The strongest reductions in abundance were seen following pasture conversion to coniferous forests compared to conversion to other woodland systems (Figure 2b). As it is known that plant-derived inputs can reduce pH, the effect of pH shift following conversion to woodland on population metrics was further investigated. Although the largest reductions were associated with the largest pH shifts, in a linear model the pH change relationship with effect size was not significant (y = 331 + 0.285×, F = 1.54, p > 0.05, R2 = 0.12).


Land-use and land-management change: relationships with earthworm and fungi communities and soil structural properties.

Spurgeon DJ, Keith AM, Schmidt O, Lammertsma DR, Faber JH - BMC Ecol. (2013)

Box plot of the effect size of earthworm population change in paired grassland and transitioned woodland plots classified to (a) categories based on time elapsed since conversion from arable to grassland and (b) woodland types.
© Copyright Policy - open-access
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4219611&req=5

Figure 2: Box plot of the effect size of earthworm population change in paired grassland and transitioned woodland plots classified to (a) categories based on time elapsed since conversion from arable to grassland and (b) woodland types.
Mentions: Although no overall significant effect on woodland conversion was observed, sub-set analyses were nonetheless conducted to assess how age since transition (i.e. the age of tree stands) and woodland type (temperate deciduous, temperate coniferous, tropical, agroforestry) influence earthworm communities. For time since conversion, a linear model indicated no significant time associated trend for effect size (p > 0.05, R2 = 0.01). The absence of an effect of stand age was confirmed in an age class analysis (GLM F = 0.98, p > 0.05) (Figure 2a). The categorisation of studies into four forest types, temperate deciduous, temperate coniferous, tropical, and orchard/agroforestry indicated no significant influence of forest type on effect size (GLM F = 1.72, p > 0.05). The strongest reductions in abundance were seen following pasture conversion to coniferous forests compared to conversion to other woodland systems (Figure 2b). As it is known that plant-derived inputs can reduce pH, the effect of pH shift following conversion to woodland on population metrics was further investigated. Although the largest reductions were associated with the largest pH shifts, in a linear model the pH change relationship with effect size was not significant (y = 331 + 0.285×, F = 1.54, p > 0.05, R2 = 0.12).

Bottom Line: Here, we employ meta-analysis to provide a quantitative assessment of the effects of changes in land use and land management across a range of successional/extensification transitions (conventional arable → no or reduced tillage → grassland → wooded land) on community metrics for two functionally important soil taxa, earthworms and fungi.Not all changes, however, result in positive effects on the assessed community metrics.For example, increasing earthworm abundances and functional group composition were shown to be positively correlated with water infiltration rate (dependent on tillage regime and habitat characteristics); while positive changes in fungal biomass measures were positively associated with soil microaggregate stability.

View Article: PubMed Central - HTML - PubMed

Affiliation: Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Maclean Building, Benson Lane, Crowmarsh Gifford, Wallingford, Oxon OX10 8BB, UK. dasp@ceh.ac.uk.

ABSTRACT

Background: Change in land use and management can impact massively on soil ecosystems. Ecosystem engineers and other functional biodiversity in soils can be influenced directly by such change and this in turn can affect key soil functions. Here, we employ meta-analysis to provide a quantitative assessment of the effects of changes in land use and land management across a range of successional/extensification transitions (conventional arable → no or reduced tillage → grassland → wooded land) on community metrics for two functionally important soil taxa, earthworms and fungi. An analysis of the relationships between community change and soil structural properties was also included.

Results: Meta-analysis highlighted a consistent trend of increased earthworm and fungal community abundances and complexity following transitions to lower intensity and later successional land uses. The greatest changes were seen for early stage transitions, such as introduction of reduced tillage regimes and conversion to grassland from arable land. Not all changes, however, result in positive effects on the assessed community metrics. For example, whether woodland conversion positively or negatively affects community size and complexity depends on woodland type and, potentially, the changes in soil properties, such as pH, that may occur during conversion. Alterations in soil communities tended to facilitate subsequent changes in soil structure and hydrology. For example, increasing earthworm abundances and functional group composition were shown to be positively correlated with water infiltration rate (dependent on tillage regime and habitat characteristics); while positive changes in fungal biomass measures were positively associated with soil microaggregate stability.

Conclusions: These findings raise the potential to manage landscapes to increase ecosystem service provision from soil biota in relation to regulation of soil structure and water flow.

Show MeSH
Related in: MedlinePlus