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Soil Ecology and Ecosystem Services$
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Diana H. Wall, Richard D. Bardgett, Valerie Behan-Pelletier, Jeffrey E. Herrick, T. Hefin Jones, Karl Ritz, Johan Six, Donald R. Strong, and Wim H. van der Putten

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199575923

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199575923.001.0001

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Patterns of Biodiversity at Fine and Small Spatial Scales

Patterns of Biodiversity at Fine and Small Spatial Scales

Chapter:
(p.136) Chapter 3.2 Patterns of Biodiversity at Fine and Small Spatial Scales
Source:
Soil Ecology and Ecosystem Services
Author(s):

Matty P. Berg

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199575923.003.0014

The biodiversity in fertile soil is mind-boggling. How can a large collection of species that potentially competes for the same resources coexist on a small spatial scale from a few centimetres to a few meters? This riddle of soil biodiversity has occupied ecologists for many decades. Spatial heterogeneity in essential resources for soil organisms is a part of solving this puzzle. This chapter describes the spatial distribution of dominant and important soil organisms at the fine to small scale, and discusses the scale-relevant drivers that determine the patchy distributions of soil organisms. The heterogeneous distribution of species, both horizontally as well as vertically, will subsequently result in a patch distribution of soil functions, (i.e., nitrification and denitrification) as soil processes are critically dependent on the structure of soil communities and on functionally influential species. The chapter concludes with the observation that spatial scales are nested within each other, and that the drivers which operate at the various scales interact and together determine species distribution. This observation calls for the integration of spatial scales to understand how heterogeneity, and disturbances that operate at a hierarchy of scales, affect species distributions and soil processes.

Keywords:   spatial patterns, scale-relevant drivers, horizontal heterogeneity, vertical heterogeneity, spatial distribution, geostatistics, rhizosphere, soil function, nested spatial scales

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