A meta-analysis of responses of soil biota to global change

Joseph C. Blankinship, Pascal A. Niklaus, Bruce A Hungate

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

170 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Global environmental changes are expected to impact the abundance of plants and animals aboveground, but comparably little is known about the responses of belowground organisms. Using meta-analysis, we synthesized results from over 75 manipulative experiments in order to test for patterns in the effects of elevated CO2, warming, and altered precipitation on the abundance of soil biota related to taxonomy, body size, feeding habits, ecosystem type, local climate, treatment magnitude and duration, and greenhouse CO2 enrichment. We found that the positive effect size of elevated CO2 on the abundance of soil biota diminished with time, whereas the negative effect size of warming and positive effect size of precipitation intensified with time. Trophic group, body size, and experimental approaches best explained the responses of soil biota to elevated CO2, whereas local climate and ecosystem type best explained responses to warming and altered precipitation. The abundance of microflora and microfauna, and particularly detritivores, increased with elevated CO2, indicative of microbial C limitation under ambient CO2. However, the effects of CO2 were smaller in field studies than in greenhouse studies and were not significant for higher trophic levels. Effects of warming did not depend on taxon or body size, but reduced abundances were more likely to occur at the colder and drier sites. Precipitation limited all taxa and trophic groups, particularly in forest ecosystems. Our meta-analysis suggests that the responses of soil biota to global change are predictable and unique for each global change factor.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)553-565
Number of pages13
JournalOecologia
Volume165
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - 2011

Fingerprint

soil biota
meta-analysis
global change
body size
warming
greenhouses
climate
ecosystems
detritivores
forest ecosystems
taxonomy
microorganisms
trophic level
forest ecosystem
duration
effect
organisms
environmental change
animals
animal

Keywords

  • Altered precipitation
  • Body size
  • Elevated carbon dioxide
  • Soil food webs
  • Soil organisms
  • Trophic structure
  • Warming

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics

Cite this

A meta-analysis of responses of soil biota to global change. / Blankinship, Joseph C.; Niklaus, Pascal A.; Hungate, Bruce A.

In: Oecologia, Vol. 165, No. 3, 2011, p. 553-565.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Blankinship, Joseph C. ; Niklaus, Pascal A. ; Hungate, Bruce A. / A meta-analysis of responses of soil biota to global change. In: Oecologia. 2011 ; Vol. 165, No. 3. pp. 553-565.
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