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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

Diversity

Sampling techniques allow researchers to draw
conclusions for the whole population and its biodiversity,
abundance and richness. In the exercise, line transect
method was applied, giving a good impression of the
actual composition of the area occupied.
The soil samples in the area were found to be 45.80%
sand, 40.40% silt and 13.80% clay in replicate 1. 44.60%
sand, 38.40% silt and 16.17% clay in replicate 2 and,
49.69% sand, 38.51% silt and 11.80% clay in replicate 3.
With the Soil Texture Triangle, the soil texture was
classified as loam.

Line Transect Method
Relative Abundance
Relative Density

I. Introduction
Soils are complex mixtures of minerals, water, air, organic matter, and countless
organisms that are the decaying remains of once-living things. The soil is a unique habitat that
supports rich and diverse life. The properties of soil are determined by environmental factors.
Five dominant factors are often considered in the development of the various soils: the climate,
parent materials, relief, organisms, and the time factor. Organisms, mainly microorganisms,
inhabit the soil & depend on it for shelter, food & water. Plants anchor themselves into the soil,
and get their nutrients and water. Terrestrial plants could not survive without soil; therefore,
humans could not exist without soil either. 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. Soil characterization data can help determine what kinds of organisms
exist in it.
The determination of population distribution, size, abundance, and richness of organisms
in a particular size of land is just one of the major problems in the study of ecology. This
problem can be resolved through sampling to acquire an estimate of the population. Researchers
can make general inferences about the population as a whole by considering the differences
within the population.
This activity uses line transect method, which is one of the three sampling techniques. A
transect is a path along which one counts and records occurrences of the species of study. Line
transects use a tape or string laid along the ground in a straight line between two poles as a guide
to a sampling method used to measure the distribution of organisms. Sampling is rigorously
confined to organisms that are actually touching the line. Line transects are used to illustrate a
particular gradient or linear pattern along which communities of plants and, or animals change.
They provide a good way of being able to clearly visualize the changes taking place along the
line.

II. Objectives
1.) To identify, measure and record the horizons in a soil profile at a soil characterization site
and its particle size distribution.
2.) To be able to gain an accurate assessment of the composition of a measured area by
looking at a few samples from that area

III. Methodology
The group was assigned to the terrestrial ecosystem. The field work was carried out o n
an island in Bolinao, Pangasinan on March 30, 2016. Only one sampling technique was
employed: the transect method. Simultaneously, soil characterization was performed. Soil
samples were obtained and soil texture analysis was later done in the laboratory.

Sampling using the Transect Method
The line-intercept method, one of the various types of transect methods, was utilized in
the experiment. On a 60-meter baseline, a random point was selected, from which a 10-meter
line (transect), perpendicular to it, was drawn. This transect was lined with a rope marked at 1meter intervals. All the living organisms (mostly plants) that touched (above and beneath) the
line were noted, documented, and identified.

Soil Characterization and Soil Texture Analysis
A trowel was used to scrape a few centimeters of soil off the profile to expose fresh soil
face. The soil profile was determined whether it was moist, wet, or dry. If it was dry, it was
moistened with the spray mist bottle. The characteristics of the soil was observed and taken note
of from the top of the soil profile down to the bottom. Distinguishing characteristics such as
color, texture, shapes, roots, rocks, small dark nodules, worms, small animals, insects, and worm
channels were noted. In a vertical line, a nail served as a marker at the top and the bottom of each

horizon. The top and bottom depth of each horizon was measured and recorded. Sample soil was
taken into the laboratory and soil texture analysis was done by sieving. First, the soil sample was
weighed. It was then sieved in four different pore sizes and the four soil samples were then
reweighed. The percent composition was computed and a soil texture triangle was used to
classify the soil sample texture class.

IV. Results
The following ecological sampling via transect line was conducted in Bolinao,
Pangasinan last March 30, 2016 during the BIO203L fieldtrip. Soil samples were collected per
site replicate, sieved and weighed to determine soil texture of the site of interest.
Table 1. Transect line sampling (Replicate 1 – first to 5th meter)

Replicate 1
1 meter
-no
organism
observed
-rocky
and
sandy soil

2 meters
-no
organism
observed
-rocky
and
sandy soil

220cm-330cm
-unidentified plant
species
-rocky and sandy
soil

3 meters
-rocky and
sandy soil
- leaf of
Cocos
nucifera
above

4m

5m
-rocky and
organism
sandy soil
observed
-Panicum
-more
repens
rocks (big) (torpedo grass)
in the soil
-no

Table 2. Transect line sampling (Replicate 6th – first to 10th meter)

Replicate 1
6 meters

7 meters

8m

9meters

10 meters

-Panicum
repens
(torpedo
grass)
-soil primarily
silt

-Panicum
repens
(torpedo
grass)
- Cocos
nucifera leaf
above
-unidentified
plant species
-soil primarily
silt

- root of Ficus
stipulosa
-Panicum
repens
(torpedo grass)
-rocky and
sandy soil

- Mimosa pudica
- Tetranychidae
sp.(no picture)
-rocky, silt, clay
mixture of soil

Table 3. Transect line sampling (Replicate 2 – first to 5th meter)

-no organism
observed
-rocky, silt,
clay mixture of
soil

Replicate 2
1 meter
- no
organism
observed
- primarily
silt texture

2 meters
-Cocos
nucifera
leaf above
-primarily
silt texture

220cm
-unidentified
plant sample
-primarily silt
texture

3 meters
-Cocos
nucifera
leaf above
-primarily
silt texture

4 meters
- leaf of
Cocos
nucifera
above
-primarily silt
texture

5 meters
- leaf of
Cocos
nucifera
above
-primarily
silt texture

Table 4. Transect line sampling (Replicate 2 – 6th to 10th meter)

Replicate 2
6 meters
- leaf of
Cocos
nucifera
above
-primarily
silt texture

670cm
-unidentified
plant sample
-soil primarily
silt texture

7 meters
-Panicum
repens
(torpedo
grass)
-soil primarily
silk texture

8 meters
-Panicum
repens
(torpedo
grass)
-soil primarily
silk texture

9 meters
-Panicum
repens
(torpedo
grass)
-soil primarily
silk texture

10 meters
-Panicum
repens
(torpedo
grass)
-soil primarily
silk texture

Table 5. Transect line sampling (Replicate 3 – first to 5th meter)

Replicate 3
1 meter
-no organim
observed
-rocky, sandy,
with clay soil

2 meters
-no organim
observed
-rocky, sandy,
with clay soil

3 meters
-no organim
observed
-rocky, sandy,
with clay soil

4 meters
-no organim
observed
-rocky, sandy,
with clay soil

5 meters
-Cocos nucifera
leaf above
-rocky, sandy,
with clay soil

Table 6. Transect line sampling (Replicate 3 – 6th to 10th meter)

Replicate 3
6 meter
-Cocos nucifera
leaf above
-rocky, sandy,
with clay soil

Table 7.
density
species per

7 meters
-no organim
observed
-rocky, sandy,
with clay soil

Site

1

8 meters
-no organism
observed
-rocky, sandy,
with clay soil

9 meters
-no organim
observed
-rocky, sandy,
with clay soil

TRANSECT
Species
No. of species
5
Panicum repens
1
Cocos nucifera
1
Ficus stipulosa
1
Mimosa pudica
5
Tetranychidae sp.
1
plant species #1
0
plant species #2
0
plant species #3
Total no. of all species
14

Rdi
35.71%
7.14%
7.14%
7.14%
35.71%
7.14%
0%
0%

2

Panicum repens
Cocos nucifera
Ficus stipulosa
Mimosa pudica
Tetranychidae sp.
plant species #1
plant species #2
plant species #3
Total no. of all species

4
3
0
0
0
0
1
1
9

44.44%
33.33
0%
0%
0%
0%
11.11%
11.11%

3

Panicum repens
Cocos nucifera
Ficus stipulosa
Mimosa pudica
Tetranychidae sp.
plant species #1
plant species #2
plant species #3
Total no. of all species

0
1
0
0
0
0
0
0
1

0%
100%
0%
0%
0%
0%
0%
0%

10 meters
-no organim
observed
-rocky, sandy,
with clay soil

Relative
values of
site

Sample Sets
Site 1 and Site 2
Site 2 and Site 3
Site 1 and Site 3

J (Jaccard)
-0.5
-0.125
-0.125

Table 8. Shannon-Wiener Index and Simpson Index values
Species

n1

H' (ShannonWiener)
-0.981
-1.569
-3.178
-3.178

Panicum repens
9
Cocos nucifera
5
Ficus stipulosa
1
Mimosa pudica
1
Tetranychidae
5
-1.569
sp.
plant species #1
1
-3.178
plant species #2
1
-3.178
plant species #3
1
-3.178
N
24
-20.01
H' (Shannon-Wiener) =20.01
D (Simpson)= 0.797
Table 9. Jaccard index values

D
(Simpson)
0.130
0.036
0
0
0.036
0
0
0
0.202

Table 10. Mass of sieved soil particles from replicate 1
Replicate 1
Gravel
Sand
Silt
Clay
TOTAL

Mass
11.3g
47.3g
41.9
15.3
115.8g

Weight of container used for soil types: 1.5g
1.5g x 4 = 6 g
115.8 – 6g = 109.8g (Final total weight)
Gravel:

Silt:

11.3g – 1.5g x 100 = 8.93%
109.8g

41.9g – 1.5g = 0.3679
109.8g

Sand:

Clay:

47.3g – 1.5g = 0.4171
109.8g

15.3g – 1.5g = 0.1257
109.8g

0.3679+0.4171+0.1257=0.9107

Sand: (0.4171/0.9107) x 100 = 45.80%
Silt: (0.3679/0.9107) x 100 = 40.40%
Clay: (0.1257/0.9107) x 100 = 13.80%

Table 8. Mass of sieved soil particles from replicate 2
Replicate 2
Soil character: LOAM
Gravel
Sand
Silt
Clay
TOTAL

Mass
15.1g
46.1g
39.9g
18.5g
119.6g

Weight of container used for all soil types: 1.5g
1.5g x 4 = 6 g
119.6g – 6g = 113.6g (Final total weight)
Gravel:

Silt:

15.1g – 1.5g = .1197
113.6g

39.9g – 1.5g = .3380
113.6g

Sand:

Clay:

46.1g – 1.5g = .3926
113.6g

18.5g – 1.5g = .1496
113.6g

0.3926 + 0.3380 + 0.1496 = 0.8802

Sand: (0.3926/0.8802) x 100 = 44.60%
Silt: (0.3380/0.8802) x 100 = 38.40%
Clay: (0.1496/0.8802) x 100 = 16.17%

Table 8. Mass of sieved soil particles from replicate 3
Replicate 3
Gravel
Sand
Silt
Clay
Soil character: LOAM
TOTAL

Mass
17.4g
49.1g
38.4g
12.8g
117.7g

Weight of container used for all: 1.5g
1.5g x 4 = 6 g
117.7g – 6g = 111.7g (Final total weight)

Gravel:

Silt:

17.4g – 1.5g = 0.1423
111.7g

48.5g – 1.5g x 100 = 0.3303
111.7g

Sand:

Clay:

49.1g – 1.5g = 0.4261
111.7g

12.8g – 1.5g = 0.1012
111.7g

0.4261 + 0.3303 + 0.1012 = 0.8576

Sand: (0.4261/0.8576) x 100 = 49.69%
Silt: (0.3303/0.8576) x 100 = 38.51%
Clay: (0.1012/0.8576) x 100 = 11.80%

Soil character: LOAM

V. Discussion

Sampling using the Transect Method

In the first replicate, the first two meters of the transect line did not come across any
organism and the soil was rocky and sandy. On the following meters, however, there were
organisms that have been observed. Immediately after the second meter, between 2.20 and 3.30
meters, an unidentified plant species sprawls over the ground. It is green and has dominant,
thick, and fleshy leaves. In the third and seventh meter, leaves of Cocos nucifera (coconut tree)
hung above the transect line. In the fourth meter, no organism was observed and the soil
contained more rocks. In the fifth meter, Panicum repens (torpedo grass) spreads over the
surface. At this point, the soil is still rocky and sandy. Until the eighth meter, torpedo grass was
observed along the transect line. At the sixth and seventh meter, the soil was primarily silt. In the
eighth meter, roots of Ficus stipulosa were seen. In the ninth, Mimosa pudica and Tetranychidae
sp. were observed. The soil from the eighth to the tenth meter was once again rocky but clay was
notable in the last two meters.
In the second replicate, the 10-meter transect line touched primarily silt soil. No organism
was observed in the first meter but Cocos nucifera leaf above the second to the sixth meter was
noted. At 2.20 and 6.70 meters, there were unidentified plant samples. Torpedo grass spread over
the seventh to the tenth meter.
In the third replicate, the soil was rocky and sandy, with a little mix of clay. It was also
notable that the ground was greatly cluttered with masses of dead leaves. In almost the entire

length of the transect line, no organism was observed. However, in the fifth and sixth meter,
Cocos nucifera leaf was observed over the transect line.
The results show the vitality of moist in the growth and development of organisms,
primarily in plants, as in the case of the experiment. More organisms were observed when the
type of soil was moist. From this, it can be interpreted that moist soils contain more nutrients
needed for initiating and sustaining life. Water is indeed essential to all of organisms’ existence.
An extremely high Shannon-Wiener index of 20.01 points out high diversity. On the other
hand, the Simpson index which is 0.797 implies low diversity. For the Jaccard’s indices, three
comparisons were made. Site 1 and Site 2, Site 2 and Site 3, and Site 1 and Site 3 obtained
indices of -0.5, -0.125, and -0.123 respectively.

Soil Characterization and Soil Texture Analysis
Soil texture is the relative proportions of sand, silt, or clay in a soil. The soil textural class
is a grouping of soils based upon these relative proportions. Soils with the finest texture are
called clay soils, while soils with the coarsest texture are called sands. However, a soil that has a
relatively even mixture of sand, silt, and clay and exhibits the properties from each separate is
called a loam. There are different types of loam, based upon which soil separate is most
abundantly present. These are shown in the textural triangle.
The mineral particles of a soil are present in a wide range of size. The fine earth fraction
includes all soil particles that are less than 2 mm. Soil particles within this fraction are further
divided into the 3 separate size classes, which includes sand, silt, and clay. The size of sand

particles range between 2.0 and 0.05 mm; silt, 0.05 mm and 0.002 mm; and clay, less than 0.002
mm. Sand particles are generally primary minerals that have not undergone much weathering.
Clay particles are secondary minerals that are the products of the weathering of primary
minerals. As weathering continues, the soil particles break down and become smaller and
smaller.
Soil texture affects many other properties like structure, chemistry, soil porosity and
permeability. Soil Porosity refers to the amount of pore or open space between soil particles.
Permeability is the degree of connectivity of soil pore space. A highly permeable soil is one in
which water runs through it readily. Coarse textured soils tend to have large, well-connected pore
spaces and therefore high permeability.
Sandy soil has large particles with large spaces or pores between them. Therefore, water
drains through sandy soil quickly. Sandy soils do not hold or retain water very well. As a result,
it is not good for growing most plants. It has fewer nutrients for plants than silt or clay. Silt has
smaller particles and slower drainage than sand, which enables it to retain more water and
nutrients for plants. Clay is very powdery when dry and very sticky and slippery when wet. Pore
spaces between clay particles are very small. It has a tremendous ability to hold water because
water and air move very slowly through clay.
To determine the texture of the soil sample, the percentages of the three soil particles
were determined. In this experiment in replicate 1, we obtained 45.80% sand, 40.40% silt and
13.80% clay. In replicate 2 we obtained 44.60% sand, 38.40% silt and 16.17% clay. In replicate 3
we obtained 49.69% sand, 38.51% silt and 11.80% clay. Using the Soil Texture Triangle, all
replicates were determined to be loam. Loam is composed mostly of sand, silt and a smaller

amount of clay. Loam soils generally contain more nutrients, moisture, and humus than sandy
soils, have better drainage and infiltration of water and air than silty soils, and are easier to till
than clay soils. It is the best soil for growing and nurturing plants.

VI. Conclusion

From the results, it can be deduced that soil determines vegetation. Soil holds minerals
needed by plants to grow and flourish. An important component of soil that contributes largely to
the success of an organism (especially a plant) is moist or water. It carries nutrients that will be
beneficial to the life of the organism.
An extremely high Shannon-Wiener index of 20.01 indicates high diversity. On the other
hand, the Simpson index which is 0.797 implies low diversity. For the Jaccard’s indices, three
comparisons were made. Site 1 and Site 2, Site 2 and Site 3, and Site 1 and Site 3 obtained
indices of -0.5, -0.125, and -0.123 respectively.
A sieve series was used to determine the particle size distribution of the soil sample
obtained from the assigned habitat. The soil samples were found to be 45.80% sand, 40.40% silt
and 13.80% clay in replicate 1. 44.60% sand, 38.40% silt and 16.17% clay in replicate 2 and,
49.69% sand, 38.51% silt and 11.80% clay in replicate 3. With the Soil Texture Triangle, the soil
texture was classified as loam.
Reference:
Lavelle, P. & Spain, A. (2001). Soil Ecology. Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Kluwer Academic
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Kang, B.T. & Spain, J.M. (1986). Management of low activity clays with special reference to
Alfisols, Ultisols and Oxisols. Proceedings of Symposium on Low Activity Clays (LAC)
Soils. pp. 107-131.

Ukut A., Akpan U. S., & Udoh B. T. (2014).Characterization and classification of soils in steep
sided hills and sharp-crested ridges of Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria. Net Journal of
Agricultural Science 2 (2), pp. 50-5

Phillips, E. A. (1959). Methods of vegetation study. New York, USA: Henry Holt and Co.

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