Functional and spatial structure of the urbotechnozem mesopedobiont community

  • O. N. Kunah Oles Honchar Dnipropetrovsk National University
Keywords: mesopedobionts, ecological niche, spatial ecology, ecomorphs


The results of studying the spatial structure of soil mesofauna of an urbanotechnozem by OMI- and RLQ-analysis are presented. The research was conducted on 5 June 2012 in the Botanic Garden of Oles Gonchar University (previously – territory of the Park Y. Gagarin, Dnipropetrovsk). The studied plot is situated on the slope of the Krasnopostachekaya balka (48°25'57.43" N, 35°2'16.52" E). The plot consists of 15 transects directed in a perpendicular manner in relation to the talweg. Each transect is made of seven sample points. The distance between points is 2 m. The coordinates of the lower left point were taken as (0; 0). The plot consisted of artificial grassland with a single tree. The vegetation was composed of grassland and steppe, of a mega-mesotrophic, xeromesophilic character. At each point the mesopedobionts were studied (data presented as L-table); temperature, electrical conductivity and soil penetration resistance, and grass height were measured (data presented as R-table). The soil-zoological test area was 25×25 cm. The mesopedobiont community was represented by 28 species and with total abundance 70.1 ind./m2. The following groups were dominant in the ecological structure of the soil animal community; saprohages, pratants, mesotrophocoenomorphs and the endogeic group. The measured edaphic characteristics were shown to play an important role in structurization of the ecological niche of the mesopedobiont community. The usage of morphological or physiological features of animals for the assessment of degree of specific distinctions is applicable for homogeneous taxonomic or ecological groups possessing comparable characteristics which also can be interpreted ecologically. The soil mesofauna is characterized by high taxonomic and ecological diversity of forms,which are difficult to compare by morphological or physiological criteria. The ecological value of characteristics in different groups will be not identical, and the basis for their comparison will be inadequate. Therefore we apply to the description of ecological features an ecomorphic analysis of the soil animals. The organization of communities of soil animals may be considered at the levels of investigated point,biogeocenosis, landscape and regional level. On the basis of landscape-ecological distribution of species in ecological space, their distribution in ecological groups – ecomorphs is established. The regular ratio of an ecomorph in these functional groups will be reflection of their organizational structure and ecological diversity. The obtained data testifies to the justice of this assumption. It is important to note the fact that the functional groups allocated in ecological space by means of the RLQ-analysis show regular patterns of spatial variability. Local functional groups are characterized by ecological characteristics in which any ecomorph may contain species occupying different hierarchical positions. Ascertaining the spatial heterogeneity of the animal community and determinancy of properties of an ecological niche by soil factors is an important result. However, for understanding of the nature of heterogeneity of the spatial variant of ecomorphs the analysis with RLQ-analysis application has been processed. Within a comparatively uniform field the spatial differentiation of the animal community in functional groups has been found. The reality of their existence was not only verified statistically, but also supplemented by a substantial interpretation of the ecomorphic markers of the interrelations between the groups and indicators of the ecological properties of the soil they inhabit. The variation of environmental properties within microsites leads to rearrangement of the ecological frame of the soil animal community. Heterogeneity of a soil body and vegetation mosaic form patterns of the spatial organisation of the soil animal community.


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