Biodiversity has been a focal aim of environmental protection since the Rio conference, but only with the beginning of the new millennium did soil biodiversity become an important aspect of international policy. Edaphic fauna play a key role in many soil functions, such as organic matter decomposition, humus formation and nutrient element cycling; moreover, affect the porosity, aeration, inﬁltration and distribution of organic matter in soil horizons, modifying soil structure and improving its fertility. The ecosystem services provided by soil animals are becoming progressively lost due to agricultural practice intensiﬁcation, which causes a reduction in both abundance and taxonomic diversity of soil communities. In the present study, a permanent grassland habitat was studied in order to evaluate its potential as a soil biodiversity reservoir in agroecosystems. Grassland samples were compared with samples from a semi-natural woodland area and an arable land site. Microarthropod abundances, Acari/Collembola ratio (A/C), Shannon diversity index (H0) and evenness index (E) were calculated. QBS-ar index was used in order to evaluate soil biological quality. Microarthropod communities of the three land use typologies differed in both the observed groups and their abundance. Steady soil taxa characterized both woodland and grassland soils, whereas their abundances were signiﬁcantly higher in woodland soil. Taxon diversity and soil biological quality in the grasslands did not differ from the woodland samples. The microarthropod community in the arable land showed a reduction both in taxa numbers and soil biological quality compared with the other sites. Soil biological quality and edaphic community composition highlighted the importance of grassland habitats in the protection of soil biodiversity.
Are grasslands important habitats for soil microarthropod conservation? / Menta, Cristina; A., Leoni; C., Gardi; Conti, Federica Delia. - In: BIODIVERSITY AND CONSERVATION. - ISSN 1572-9710. - 20:5(2011), pp. 1073-1087. [10.1007/s10531-011-0017-0]