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Soil Health and Arthropods: From Complex System to Worthwhile Investigation
Open AccessArticle

Vegetation Pattern Modulates Ground Arthropod Diversity in Semi-Arid Mediterranean Steppes

1
Departamento de Física, Faculdade de Filosofia, Ciências e Letras de Ribeirão Preto, Universidade de São Paulo, CEP 14040-901 Ribeirão Preto, Brazil
2
Department of Ecology and IMEM, University of Alicante, E-03690 San Vicente del Raspeig, Alicante, Spain
3
National Institute of Science and Technology for Complex Systems, CEP 22290-180 Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
4
Department of Environmental Biology, University of Navarra, E-31080 Pamplona, Spain
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Insects 2020, 11(1), 59; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects11010059
Received: 3 December 2019 / Revised: 24 December 2019 / Accepted: 15 January 2020 / Published: 18 January 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Elucidating the Role of Soil Arthropods in Soil Health)
The ecological functioning of dryland ecosystems is closely related to the spatial pattern of the vegetation, which is typically structured in patches. Ground arthropods mediate key soil functions and ecological processes, yet little is known about the influence of dryland vegetation pattern on their abundance and diversity. Here, we investigate how patch size and cover, and distance between patches relate to the abundance and diversity of meso-and microarthropods in semi-arid steppes. We found that species richness and abundance of ground arthropods exponentially increase with vegetation cover, patch size, and patch closeness. The communities under vegetation patches mainly respond to patch size, while the communities in the bare-soil interpatches are mostly controlled by the average distance between patches, independently of the concurrent changes in vegetation cover. Large patches seem to play a critical role as reserve and source of ground arthropod diversity. Our results suggest that decreasing vegetation cover and/or changes in vegetation pattern towards small and over-dispersed vegetation patches can fast lead to a significant loss of ground arthropods diversity in drylands. View Full-Text
Keywords: arthropods diversity; drylands; soil fauna; spatial pattern; vegetation patches arthropods diversity; drylands; soil fauna; spatial pattern; vegetation patches
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MDPI and ACS Style

Meloni, F.; F. Civieta, B.; A. Zaragoza, J.; Lourdes Moraza, M.; Bautista, S. Vegetation Pattern Modulates Ground Arthropod Diversity in Semi-Arid Mediterranean Steppes. Insects 2020, 11, 59.

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