Eco L: Soil Diversity
Soil is an ecological system consisting of inorganic minerals (sand, silt, clay, and nutrients), pore spaces, water, gases, organic matter, living organisms, and plants (Thien, 2002). The soil is said to be stable structurally and chemically thus is considered an outstanding medium for soil organisms such as bacteria, fungi, protozoa, nematodes, arthropods, and earthworms. The potential habitats of these soil invertebrates are the spaces within the surface litter, holes in soil aggregates and pore spaces, root channels, etc. Soil arthropods are vital link in the food chain as decomposers. They play important roles in controlling the rate of litter decomposition and in altering nutrient and energy cycle. Some protozoans and worms also contribute to the mixing, loosening, and aerating the soil. Soil microarthropods are also necessary in maintaining soil fertility. The abundance and diversity of soil arthropods are influenced by the availability of organic matter, substrate quality, concentrations of macro and micro nutrients and age and biodiversity of the rehabilitating habitat. (Iloba, 2008).
The most dominant microorganisms found in the soil are the bacteria, fungi, protozoans, and nematodes. Bacteria are important in the carbon cycle, decomposition, improving water infiltration, water-holding capacity, soil stability, and aeration. Bacteria and fungi also play a vital role in fixing atmospheric nitrogen that adds to the soil nitrogen pool. Some bacteria also exude a sticky substance that helps bind soil particles into small aggregates that will eventually become the habitat for soil arthropods. Nowadays, some bacteria are used in bioremediation since they can detoxify herbicides, heavy metals, and petroleum products in the soil and groundwater (Miles, 2003). Protozoans work hand-in-hand with bacteria such that they either eat bacteria to release nitrogen and other nutrients beneficial for the plants or...
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