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Exercise 6.

Soil Diversity
Jan Kerwin F. Codiniera1, Juan Miguel L. Franco1,
Van Alvin U. Gambalan1 Juan Carlos D. Maranan1
Department of Biological Sciences, College of
Science, University of Santo Tomas, Espaa Manila

A Berlese funnel setup was used in this
experiment in order to assess the soil
diversity of a given soil sample, which
includes identification and statistical data
regarding the arthropod community present.
Results show that 2 soil termites were found
present in the soil sample used.
Computations for statistical data show that
the values for density and relative density
were 7.69x10-3 and 100, respectively.
Abundance was measured to have a value
of 2 while both the relative abundance and
Simpsons Index of Diversity have a value of
1. Shannon-Wiener Index of Diversity was
also computed, having a value of 1.39. The
possible causes for this low diversity are the
type of soil used, presence of moisture in
the setup, and unavailability of fixatives for

1992). The setup works by simulating a

temperature gradient over the sample such
that the organisms inside the sample would
move away from the high temperature.
Doing so will lead them to fall to the
collecting vessels and will be able for
examination later on. This setup was done
to (1) be able to learn techniques for
abundance , and rank abundance of leaf
litter arthropod community and to (2) be
able to sort, identify, and count the
arthropods from the soil samples.
Constructing a Berlese funnel
Two 2-Liter soda bottles were used as the
body of the Berlese funnel. Approximately
four inches were cut off from the first bottle
and the funnel was removed. The second
bottle is the opposite as the part with the
funnel was retained. A mesh or net was
placed on the opening of the funnel and the
funnel was placed inverted into the other
half-bottle, which served as a specimen
collector and contained water.


Checking for Soil Diversity

A simple way of assessing how

healthy a soil sample from a certain area is
by examining the different living organisms
that can be extracted from the sample
alone. An efficient method of extracting
living organisms is with the use of the
Berlese funnel setup. First tested in 1905,
Antonio Berlese constructed a method
wherein a hot water jacket is used as a heat
source. It was then later modified in 1918 by
Albert Tullgren by using an electric bulb to
replace the hot water jacket and an iron
sheet drum to create a heat gradient. (Imes

Soil was gently placed inside the Berlese

funnel. The soil must be broken up first as
to have an even consistency to allow any
arthropods to emigrate from the soil.
Annelids, such as earthworms, should be
removed because mucus secretions can
impede the movement of other organisms.
Afterwards, a lamp is placed near the top of
the Berlese funnel as to stimulate the
warming of the soil surface. As a result,
organisms would try to move away from the
heat and towards the bottom near the funnel
where they will fall. The water should be

replaced every 16 hours or so. Methylene

blue or ethanol was used as a fixative after
Fig. 1 Berlese funnel method set-up

indicate a healthy soil because they are

agents of organic matter decomposition and
are important to nutrient recycling. Only two
soil mites of the same species were
confirmed to be observed.

each replacement of the water.

Results and Discussion

The loam soil utilized in this experiment was

a topsoil from a newly potted plant. During
the identification of organisms captured
using the Berlese funnel using a dissecting
microscope, we observed that there were
only few numbers of microarthropods
present. We identify these microarthropods
as soil mites. The presence of these mites

Fig. 2 Soil mites under dissecting microscope

A possible factor contributing to this low

diversity of organisms found is the the soil
used since it was collected from a newly
potted plant, the organisms must not have
settled to their usual location. Another factor
would be that the soil used was not
completely dry and therefore may have
prevented some organisms to fall from the
funnel. Furthermore, there were no fixative
readily available for use so there might have
been organisms like nematodes present but
immediately dessicated since a fixative was
not applied. The Berlese funnel method
gives an inaccurate result
of the
biodiversity of the soil since it only works on
dry soil and can only capture organisms that
do not easily dessicate and are mobile.

The Berlese funnel setup is a technique for
assessing the diversity of organisms found
present in a particular soil sample. The
application of this technique showed that
there were two organisms, which were
identified as soil mites, present in the soil
sample used for the experiment.

(1) Imes, R. (1992). Practical Entomologist: A
fireside book. New York, NY: Simon and
(2) Gonalves, M. F., & Pereira, J. A. (2012).

The results for the computation of statistical

data in this experiment is shown in figure 3.
The value of density gives an idea of how
much of the organisms is found in an area
while the abundance shows how many of
the species is found in the sample.
However given all those values, they may
have been irrelevant since there were only
two organisms found of the same species.
Abundance and Diversity of Soil Arthropods
in the Olive Grove Ecosystem. Journal of
Science, 12,

Fig. 3 Computation for species diversity