Biodiv Sci ›› 2018, Vol. 26 ›› Issue (10): 1034-1050.  DOI: 10.17520/biods.2018122

Special Issue: 土壤生物与土壤健康

• Reviews • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Spatial patterns and assembly rules in soil fauna communities: A review

Meixiang Gao1,2, Lin Lin1,2, Liang Chang3, Xin Sun3, Dong Liu3, Donghui Wu3,4,*()   

  1. 1 College of Geographical Sciences, Harbin Normal University, Harbin 150025
    2 Heilongjiang Province Key Laboratory of Geographical Environment Monitoring and Spatial Information Service in Cold Regions, Harbin Normal University, Harbin 150025
    3 Key Laboratory of Wetland Ecology and Environment, Northeast Institute of Geography and Agroecology, Chinese Academy of Scieneces, Changchun 130102
    4 Key Laboratory of Vegetation Ecology of Ministry of Education, Northeast Normal University, Changchun 130024
  • Received:2018-04-16 Accepted:2018-07-03 Online:2018-10-20 Published:2019-01-06
  • Contact: Wu Donghui
  • About author:# Co-first authors


Identifying spatial patterns and assembly rules in communities is a central study topic in ecology. With the unprecedented rate at which biodiversity is decreasing, it is necessary to recognize the spatial patterns and assembly rules in communities in order to understand why biodiversity is being lost and to be able to protect it. However, previous studies have focused more on plant communities in above-ground terrestrial ecosystems, neglecting below-ground ecosystems, especially soil faunal communities. Indeed, soil faunal biodiversity is a crucial component of global biodiversity because soil faunal communities assist in the maintenance of important ecosystem structures and functions. Therefore, one important aim of identifying spatial patterns and assembly rules in soil faunal communities is to clarify mechanisms of maintaining soil faunal biodiversity at multiple scales, so as to promote these processes, which also maintain ecosystem structures and functions. Soil faunal communities usually form complicated spatial patterns at multiple spatial scales. Here, we propose spatial autocorrelation characteristics, and then show how the complicated spatial patterns are demonstrated by patches and gaps of soil faunal communities at multiple scales. These spatial patterns are mainly controlled by processes of biotic interactions, environmental filtering and random dispersal. Consequently, we discuss the impacts of these processes on soil faunal communities. Finally, we suggest that these three processes are essential to evaluate and construct a theoretical framework for soil faunal communities and should continue to be studied in the future. Because interest in spatial patterns and assembly rules of soil faunal communities is relatively new in China, we expect this review will promote the development of related research areas.

Key words: spatial scale, spatial heterogeneity, biodiversity maintainance, biotic interaction, environmental filtering, random dispersal