Biodiv Sci ›› 2022, Vol. 30 ›› Issue (12): 22282.  DOI: 10.17520/biods.2022282

Special Issue: 土壤生物与土壤健康 昆虫多样性与生态功能

• Original Papers • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Effects of ant nest microhabitats on the diversity of soil macrofauna in gobi ecosystems

Yilin Feng1,2, Yongzhen Wang3, Yongyi Lin3, Wenzhi Zhao2,3, Junwei Gao4, Jiliang Liu3,*()   

  1. 1. School of Ecology and Environment, Ningxia University, Yinchuan 750021
    2. Breeding Base for State Key Lab. of Land Degradation and Ecological Restoration in Northwestern China / Key Lab. of Restoration and Reconstruction of Degraded Ecosystems in Northwestern China of Ministry of Education, Yinchuan 750021
    3. Linze Inland River Basin Research Station, Northwest Institute of Eco-Environment and Resources, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Lanzhou 730000
    4. Linze Desertification Control Basin Research Station, Linze, Gansu 734200
  • Received:2022-05-23 Accepted:2022-09-06 Online:2022-12-20 Published:2022-10-24
  • Contact: *E-mail:


Aims: Harvest ant nests are an important microhabitat in gobi ecosystems that greatly affect the distribution and diversity of animals and plants by enhancing litter and improving the soil environment. This study analyzed the distribution pattern and influencing factors of soil macrofauna diversity between ant nest and adjacent bare ground microhabitats.
Methods: We investigated the assemblage of soil macrofauna in gobi Messor desertus ant nests and adjacent bare ground microhabitats using pitfall traps in May, June, and October 2020.
Results: (1) The community composition of soil macrofauna differed between ant nest and adjacent bare ground microhabitats and showed obvious seasonal variations. Soil macrofauna communities of ant nests and adjacent bare ground differed significantly in October, with an average dissimilarity of 62.9%. Slight differences were also observed in May and June, with 34.8% and 39.3% average dissimilarity, respectively. (2) The activity density and groups richness of soil macrofauna were significantly higher in ant nests than in adjacent bare ground microhabitats in June; the groups richness and diversity index of soil macrofauna communities were also higher in ant nests in October, and the evenness index of soil macrofauna communities was significantly lower in ant nests than bare ground microhabitats in May. (3) Ant nests significantly increased the activity density and groups richness, which increased the interactions between predatory and non-predatory soil macrofauna and altered the interactions between Messor desertus and some soil macrofauna groups. (4) pRDA showed that soil electrical conductivity, total nitrogen, and silt content were the main soil factors driving the distribution of soil macrofauna communities between ant nest and adjacent bare ground microhabitats.
Conclusion: Messor desertus ant nests increased the diversity of soil macrofauna communities and altered the trophic and non-trophic relationship among soil macrofauna groups, which affects the trophic structure and ecological function of soil macrofauna communities.

Key words: gobi, Messor desertus, ant nests, soil macrofauna, trophic groups