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Multiple environmental controls explain global patterns in soil animal communities

Johnston, A. S. A. and Sibly, R. M. ORCID: (2020) Multiple environmental controls explain global patterns in soil animal communities. Oecologia, 192 (4). pp. 1047-1056. ISSN 0029-8549

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1007/s00442-020-04640-w


Soil animals play important roles in ecosystem functioning and stability, but the environmental controls on their communities are not fully understood. In this study, we compiled a dataset of soil animal communities for which the abundance and body mass of multiple soil animal groups were recorded. The mass–abundance scaling relationships were then used to investigate multiple environmental controls on soil animal community composition. The data reveal latitudinal shifts from high abundances of small soil animals at high latitudes to greater relative abundances of large soil animals at low latitudes. A hierarchical linear mixed effects model was applied to reveal the environmental variables shaping these latitudinal trends. The final hierarchical model identified mean annual temperature, soil pH and soil organic carbon content as key environmental controls explaining global mass–abundance scaling relationships in soil animal communities (R2c = 0.828, Ngroup = 117). Such relationships between soil biota with climate and edaphic conditions have been previously identified for soil microbial, but not soil animal, communities at a global scale. More comprehensive global soil community datasets are needed to better understand the generality of these relationships over a broader range of global ecosystems and soil animal groups.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Life Sciences > School of Biological Sciences > Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
ID Code:90644


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