Presenter's Name(s)

Eva KinnebrewFollow

Primary Faculty Mentor Name

Gillian Galford

Status

Graduate

Student College

Rubenstein School of Environmental and Natural Resources

Program/Major

Natural Resources

Primary Research Category

Food & Environment Studies

Secondary Research Category

Biological Sciences

Tertiary Research Category

Engineering & Physical Sciences

Presentation Title

Detritivores and Carbon Cycling in Agroecosystems: Assessing the Potential of an Understudied Ecosystem Service

Time

12:20 PM

Location

Mildred Livak Ballroom

Abstract

Detritivores, including earthworms, beetles, ants, springtails, and mites, are an ecological group that live in the soil and consume litter. Detritivores are often used as indicators of healthy soil, but there is a paucity of work investigating their role in ecosystem functioning. While it is recognized that they play a part in litter fragmentation, the extent to which detritivores mineralize carbon and perform other important carbon-related functions is often misunderstood or uncertain. The implications for detritivores and carbon cycling are particularly important to understand in the context of agriculture. Healthy, organic-matter rich soil is integral to crop success and can also act as a sink for carbon, which can help offset climate change. In this sense, detritivore communities in agricultural fields could potentially serve two major ecosystem services: the regulation of soil health and carbon storage. We carried out a systematic literature review with the objective of determining what is known and unknown about the role of detritivores in mediating carbon cycling. Specifically, we used a series of search terms in Web of Science to collect and assess studies that looked at the impact of individual species or whole communities on the physical and chemical properties of litter and soil. Our initial analyses demonstrate that detritivores’ impacts stretch much farther than litter fragmentation, and that they can play important roles in carbon mineralization, soil structure creation, and soil aggregation, though these impacts may be specific to certain species or functional groups. We additionally found that the literature is heavily weighted towards certain taxonomic groups, like earthworms and nematodes, and that there is a paucity of and need for research for groups like ground beetles, springtails, and mites. These results indicate that detritivores play a much more important role in soil health and agricultural productivity than previously believed and that agricultural management plans should prioritize detritivore conservation.

This document is currently not available here.

Share

COinS
 

Detritivores and Carbon Cycling in Agroecosystems: Assessing the Potential of an Understudied Ecosystem Service

Detritivores, including earthworms, beetles, ants, springtails, and mites, are an ecological group that live in the soil and consume litter. Detritivores are often used as indicators of healthy soil, but there is a paucity of work investigating their role in ecosystem functioning. While it is recognized that they play a part in litter fragmentation, the extent to which detritivores mineralize carbon and perform other important carbon-related functions is often misunderstood or uncertain. The implications for detritivores and carbon cycling are particularly important to understand in the context of agriculture. Healthy, organic-matter rich soil is integral to crop success and can also act as a sink for carbon, which can help offset climate change. In this sense, detritivore communities in agricultural fields could potentially serve two major ecosystem services: the regulation of soil health and carbon storage. We carried out a systematic literature review with the objective of determining what is known and unknown about the role of detritivores in mediating carbon cycling. Specifically, we used a series of search terms in Web of Science to collect and assess studies that looked at the impact of individual species or whole communities on the physical and chemical properties of litter and soil. Our initial analyses demonstrate that detritivores’ impacts stretch much farther than litter fragmentation, and that they can play important roles in carbon mineralization, soil structure creation, and soil aggregation, though these impacts may be specific to certain species or functional groups. We additionally found that the literature is heavily weighted towards certain taxonomic groups, like earthworms and nematodes, and that there is a paucity of and need for research for groups like ground beetles, springtails, and mites. These results indicate that detritivores play a much more important role in soil health and agricultural productivity than previously believed and that agricultural management plans should prioritize detritivore conservation.