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Anthony Stellato Bio II Lab

The Diversity of Soil Invertebrates Found in Your Backyard

Abstract: The biodiversity or variety of life on earth is more important than people may think or even realize. Biodiversity affects the lives of every organism found on earth and each are in some way tied into one another or somehow linked. People do not realize that humans play a huge factor in the survival of organisms and life on earth and we have a tendency to negatively affect them. Using the Berlese Funnel you can test the biodiversity of soil invertebrates and really see firsthand how many organisms live in a single cup full of soil. Using a formula known as the Shannon Index we can find the amount of variation of species found in a community. Using the results from that formula a graph can be made with error bars making an excellent illustration and easy viewing of how much diversity really exists in small ecological communities. You can hypothesize and see that certain communities will be ideal for more organisms than others and what factors may affect the communities of others. In further reading you will understand how the extraction of soil can highlight the true biological diversity of soil invertebrates in communities present in most peoples backyards. Introduction: Biodiversity, short for biological diversity, is in simple terms; the variety of life on earth. It includes all species, organisms, populations and the genetic variation and assembly of complex communities and ecosystems having to do with them. Biodiversity can be greatly affected by a many things on earth most of which have ties to some sort of human cause. The destruction and loss of habitats, usually due to human construction and population, leads to decline and extinction of many species, populations, and

ecosystems. The loss or decline of species is also caused by alterations in an ecosystems composition. Elimination of certain animals by humans can cause a chain reaction leading to the decline of another type of species not at all related to the one being killed by humans. The introduction of exotic species can alter an entire population or ecosystem. These non-native species and affect native species by eating them, infecting them, competing with them for food, or even mating with them. The overexploitation or otherwise known as over-hunting, over-fishing, or over-collecting of a certain species can lead to its decline or extinction. The pollution and contamination caused by humans also plays a huge role in biodiversity and affects it significantly. Global climate change can cause huge alterations in environmental conditions. If species are unable to relocate or adapt to new conditions they may be lost. In the case of invertebrates, their biodiversity is greatly affected by global climate change. Many invertebrates lives are dependent upon location and climate like many other species therefore they move with the climate. For instance, recent warming in Alaska has caused spruce budworms to reproduce further North. Spruce budworms are the most widely found and most destructive pest to coniferous (evergreen) trees in the western United States. Invertebrates can be found in many different types of habitats but while studying soil invertebrates we experimented with leaf litter, pond soil, and grass. We hypothesized that there will be differences in soil invertebrate diversity in different types of habitats. Scientists have found that the diversity of invertebrates, not just soil invertebrates, is directly affected by climate and the human use of pesticides. Methods: The study site is in Spring Hill, Florida, a hot humid area and soil was extracted during the late morning, early afternoon time. Soil was extracted from three different sites. The first site was on a tree line of a small forest I scraped up some leaf litter roughly filling two of my hands cupped together and set it aside. The second site was the edge of a small pond where I extracted about a cup of soil and set it aside

as well. The third location was just a grass area where I again extracted about a cup of dry soil containing a few blades of grass. New the pond was obviously very moist and humid and the forest area was a bit damp as well. The area around where I had extracted the soil in the grass was just very dry and hot. To conduct the study and test my hypothesis I used the Berlese Funnel. The Berlese Funnel is a method used to extract arthropods from soil and litter samples by means of light. The method is based on the principle that insects and arthropods which live in soil will respond negatively to light. Therefore, a light source is set up to force these insects and arthropods downward into a funnel that leads to a container of ethanol which kills the arthropods and allows them to be studied and counted and so on. After the soil was collected I began the Berlese Funnel experiment and waited 7 days until I checked the ethanol container. After checking the ethanol I began to count the invertebrates found in each container from the different habitats and documented my results. Once I documented all of my findings I did a calculation using the Shannon Diversity Index to find the diversity within the habitats. I then made graphs to support my findings and to better see and understand my results. I used error bars to show the standard deviation or the variation from the average. Results: In the leaf litter a variety of invertebrates were found including ticks, beetles, termites, ants, spiders, grub, earwigs, a pseudo scorpion, and one unidentified organism. In the grass a combination of spiders, mites, ants, worms, and beetles were found. In one extraction of grass soil there were no invertebrates found at all. The pond soil extracted contained ants, worms, two unidentified organisms, maggots, and beetles. Figure 1 (below) shows the diversity of invertebrates in the community studied. Error bars show how the variation is or can change from the average.

Figure 1 Discussion: More variation was found in forests over any of the other communities. This can be due to a few different reasons such as it has many more resources for the organisms to thrive on. In leaf litter there is a lot more protection from predators as there is many places to hide for the invertebrates. Forests also provide a lot of shade along with spots of sunlight and heat, it is also very damp. The pond soil contained a decent variation in species this is probably due to the fact that many of these invertebrates have to be able to live in very wet areas. This is what separates these invertebrates from those in a forest or grass community. The diversity in the grass community is very shallow; there isnt a very big variation in the types of organisms living in it. In one of the extractions there were no invertebrates found at all, one cause of this could be due to the human use of pesticides. The other extraction had few organisms and

this is most likely because there isnt much protection again predation or much shelter for invertebrates. The blades of grass are the extent of shelter provided for the organisms so many of them choose to live in places that have more to offer. After conducting all of the research and studies I have concluded that biological diversity is very different in soil invertebrates based on their habitats. I also conclude that factors such as shelter and humans play a role in the variation in the communities of these invertebrates.

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