That conclusion is found in research results published today in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Scientists have generally accepted that a wider range of species can be found above ground at the equator than at the Earth's poles.
But this study proves for the first time that the same rules don't apply to the nematodes, mites and springtails living underground.
The team of National Science Foundation- (NSF) funded ecologists includes Tiehang Wu and Jim Garey at the University of South Florida, Diana Wall at Colorado State University, Ed Ayres now at Neon Inc. in Colorado, and Richard Bardgett at the University of Lancaster in the United Kingdom.
"Scientist E.O. Wilson noted that the key to understanding Earth's biodiversity lies in exploration of its smallest life forms," said Matt Kane, program director in NSF's Division of Environmental Biology, which funded the research.
"Important affirmation of this idea is provided in this global study of animals, in which the significance of belowground biodiversity is revealed."
This is the first comprehensive molecular analysis--at nearly a species resolution--of the global distribution of soil animals across a broad range of ecosystems from the tropics to the poles.
Soil samples were taken from 11 sites around the world, including tropical forest in Costa Rica, arid grassland in Kenya, warm temperate forest in New Zealand, shrub steppe of Argentina and tundra and boreal forest of Alaska and Sweden.
Through DNA testing, researchers found that each location had a diversity of soil animals, but that each ecosystem is unique with its own soil animals--illustrating an "amazing diversity of species" that had never been discovered before, said Garey.
"On average, 96 percent of our identified soil animals were found at only a single location, suggesting that most soil animals have restricted distributions, or in other words, they are endemic," said Wall.
"This challenges the long-held view that these smaller animals are widely distributed. However, unlike most above-ground organisms, there was no indication that latitude made a difference in soil animal diversity."
"Mites and roundworms dominate soil ecology and contribute to the breakdown and cycling of nutrients in the soil," Garey said. "These animals are essential to the proper functioning of the soil ecosystem in natural and farmlands."
The researchers also examined how the global distribution of soil animals relates to factors such as climate, soil nutrient levels and aboveground biodiversity.
Results showed that sites with greater aboveground biodiversity appeared to have lower diversity beneath in soils.
The main factors explaining this low soil animal diversity at sites with high aboveground diversity were high levels of soil inorganic nitrogen availability and lower pH compared with other sites.
Some sites with high animal biodiversity, like the Kenyan grassland site, are considered more at risk due to land use and population increase.Media Contacts
Michele Dye, University of South Florida (813) 974-6469 email@example.comRelated Websites
The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering. In fiscal year (FY) 2011, its budget is about $6.9 billion. NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 universities and institutions. Each year, NSF receives over 45,000 competitive requests for funding, and makes over 11,500 new funding awards. NSF also awards over $400 million in professional and service contracts yearly.
Cheryl Dybas | EurekAlert!
Europe’s Demographic Future. Where the Regions Are Heading after a Decade of Crises
10.08.2017 | Berlin-Institut für Bevölkerung und Entwicklung
Scientists reveal source of human heartbeat in 3-D
07.08.2017 | University of Manchester
Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.
As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...
Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.
Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...
For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.
While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...
An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.
The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...
A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.
Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...
16.08.2017 | Event News
04.08.2017 | Event News
26.07.2017 | Event News
18.08.2017 | Life Sciences
18.08.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
18.08.2017 | Materials Sciences