Two desirable functions of healthy soil are nutrient cycling and pest suppression. We review relevant literature on the contributions of soil microarthropods to soil health through their intersecting roles in decomposition and nutrient cycling and direct and indirect suppression of plant pests. Microarthropods can impact soil and plant health directly by feeding on pest organisms or serving as alternate prey for larger predatory arthropods. Indirectly, microarthropods mediate the ability of crop plants to resist or tolerate insect pests and diseases by triggering induced resistance and/or contributing to optimal nutritional balance of plants. Soil fauna, including microarthropods, are key regulators of decomposition at local scales but their role at larger scales is unresolved. Future research priorities include incorporating multi-channel omnivory into food web modeling and understanding the vulnerability of soil carbon through global climate change models.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Insect Science