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Experiment 6

Soil Diversity
K. Draheim, B. N. Estrella, K. M. L. Garcia, L. Guillermo
Department of Biological Sciences, College of Science, University of Santo Tomas, España
Street, Manila 108

Key words:

Summary

Berlese

Structure, color, consistence, texture and abundance of
roots, rocks and carbonates can characterize soil. These
characteristics allow scientists to interpret how the
ecosystem functions and make recommendations for soil
use that have minimal impact on the ecosystem. In the
experiment, the percent composition was computed to be
10% gravel, 45% sand, 49% silt, and 11% clay. With the
use of the soil texture triangle, soil texture class was
determined to be loam.

Density
Diversity
Relative Abundance
Rank Abundance

I. Introduction
The soil is a unique habitat that supports rich and diverse life. The soil atmosphere is
saturated with water, poor in oxygen and rich in carbon dioxide. Most soil organisms absorb and
lose water through their integument and depend on water-saturated atmosphere for their
existence. If the soil dries out, the organisms in soil die, exist as resistant cysts or eggs, or
migrate away from unfavorable conditions.
Soil organisms are responsible for performing vital functions in the soil. Soil organisms
make up the diversity of life in the soil. This soil biodiversity is an important but poorly
understood component of terrestrial ecosystems. Soil biodiversity is comprised of the organisms
that spend all or a portion of their life cycles within the soil or on its immediate surface including
surface litter and decaying logs.

Most of soil animals extracted by a Berlese funnel are so-called microarthropods,
arthropods with a body size of 0.1-5.0 mm. These animals are unable to dig their own way in
soil. They inhabit soil crevices, pores, and hollows created by larger animals. As they consume
plant and animal residues, graze on soil fungi and bacteria, and produce fecal pellets, these tiny
arthropods promote the formation of humus in the soil and aid in maintaining soil structure. After
death they leave important nitrogenous waste. Through interactions with fungal and bacterial
microflora, these animals regulate decomposition rate, affect nutrient cycling and play an
important part in soil fertility. The most numerous microarthropods are collembolans and freeliving soil mites.
The Berlese funnel is a great tool for separating microarthropods and other microscopic
organisms from the litter and soil they inhabit. Free of soil debris, they can be counted and
identified. The funnel can be made from a simple desk lamp and plastic pop bottle. Because soil
organisms prefer a cold, dark and moist environment, like the conditions in soil, they try to
escape when exposed to the heat, light and dryness created when a lamp shines directly on the
soil. They work on the principle that insects and other arthropods that normally live in soil and
litter will respond negatively to light. Immobile larvae, endophagous nymphs and soft-bodied
invertebrates such as nematodes are not extracted by a Berlese funnel.

II. Objectives
1.) To be able to learn techniques for assessing density, diversity, relative abundance, and
rank abundance of leaf litter arthropod community.
2.) To be able to sort, identify, and count the arthropods from the litter samples.

III. Methodology
.

V. Discussion

Reference:
Anderson, J.M., Heal, O.W., & Swift, M.J. (1979). Decomposition in terrestrial ecosystems.
Oxford, UK: Blackwell Scientific Publications.
Doran, J.W., Duxbury, J.M., & Smith, M.S. (1989). Soil organic matter as a source and sink of
plant nutrients. Dynamics of soil organic matter in tropical ecosystem, pp. 33-67.
Lavelle, P. & Spain, A. (2001). Soil Ecology. Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Kluwer Academic
Publishers.