soil biology – a primer who is who & what do they do?

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Soil Biology A Primer Who is who & What do they do?. Elizabeth Sulzman, Oregon State & T. Kittel. Size, functional groups:. Important Groups of Soil Organisms. Vascular plants, mosses (autotrophs). Macroflora Microflora Macrofauna. - PowerPoint PPT Presentation


  • Soil Biology A PrimerWho is who&What do they do?Elizabeth Sulzman, Oregon State& T. Kittel

  • Important Groups of Soil OrganismsMacroflora



    Vascular plants, mosses (autotrophs)Vascular plants (root hairs), algae, actinomycetes, bacteria, and fungi (auto- and heterotrophs)Vertebrates, arthropods, earthworms, snails (herbivores, detritivores, predators)Size, functional groups:Mesofauna

    MicrofaunaArthropods, worms (detritivores, predators)Nematodes, protazoa (detritivores, fungivores, bacterivores, predators)

  • Relative Sizes gif view in slideshow mode

    Note ruler for scale

  • heterotrophs (bacteria, fungi) & autotrophs (algae, cyanobacteria)

    the primary decomposersrelease plant available nutrients

    stabilize soil aggregatesMicrofloraSoil fungiSoil bacteria

  • Aggregates held together by:Fungal hyphaeBacterial gluesOrganic matter


  • CiliateFlagellateNematodeheterotrophs; some parasitic

    feed on bacteria and fungi

    release plant nutrients protozoa KEY for NNematodeMicrofaunaeeee!

  • heterotrophs (detritivores, predators) feed on fungi, protozoa, nematodes, mites important in regulating populations of everything smallerMesofauna

  • Photo by Suzanne Paisley heterotrophs

    shred plant material

    feed on bacteria and fungi associated with organic matterMacrofauna

  • Dung BeetlesAddo National Park, South Africa Tembe Elephant Reserve KwaZulu Natal, South AfricaAmboseli National Park, Kenya Macrofauna Key disposer of elephant dung and so a protected species!(you can imagine the or else)

  • Soil Food WebEcosystem Function

  • Influence of soil biota on soil processesBreak up O.M., mineralize and immobilize nutrientsBind aggregates, hyphae entangle particlesRegulate bacterial and fungal populationsIndirectly affect structureRegulate above pops.; fragment plant tissueFecal pellets, poresFragment plant tissueMix O.M. and mineral soil; pores; fecesEcosystem Function

  • Recall: Rate of decomposition depends on Physical and chemical nature of the litter material Temperature and moisture of the soil environmentAeration (vs. anaerobic)The kinds and numbers of soil fauna

    More bugs, and more different kinds of bugs, means more decompositionEcosystem Function

  • Mendenhall

    Web site: search microbe zoo Dirtland by Andy Lyons

    Amboseli National Park by Howard Norfolk By Mendenhall c/o American Greetings