Effect of Fertilizer on the Biodiversity of Microcosms
We examined the effects of fertilization form and quantity on the abundance, diversity and composition of soil fauna across an age-sequence of poplar plantations (i.e., 4-, 9- and 20-yr-old) in the coastal region of eastern China. We found that the effects of fertilization on faunal abundance, diversity, and composition differed among stand ages. Organic fertilizers increased the total abundance of soil fauna, whereas low level inorganic fertilizers imparted increases only in the 4- and 9-yr-old stands. The number of faunal groups did not change with fertilization, but Shannon’s and Margalef diversity indices increased under low level organic fertilization, and decreased under inorganic fertilization in the 9- and 20-yr-old stands. Community composition of soil fauna differed strongly with fertilization and stand age. The changes in soil fauna were strongly associated with the changes in microbial biomass carbon, dissolved organic carbon and nitrogen, and available phosphorus and potassium. Soil faunal communities are critical for ecosystem functionality, with respect to direct and indirect interactions with plants, nutrient, and organic matter cycling. The composition and diversity of soil fauna are typically explained by the top-down effects of predators and the bottom-up effects of resource availability. Soil fauna have a strong association with soil nutrient availability and are sensitive to changes in the root and soil physicochemical environments, which may be affected by organic and inorganic fertilizers.
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