Effect of shrub microhabitats on aboveground and belowground arthropod distribution in a desertified steppe ecosystem

Rentao Liu, Fan Zhu, Yosef Steinberger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


The influence of the shrub canopy on the spatial distribution of above and below ground arthropod communities in desertified ecosystems is largely unknown. Using the shrubs Hedysarum scoparium (H. scoparium) and Artemisia ordosica (A. ordosica) as model systems, the above and belowground arthropod communities were sampled by using pitfall trapping and hand-sorting, in order to examine the linkage between above and belowground arthropods across shrub microhabitats. Different profile layers harboured mostly distinct arthropod taxon and trophic groups that preferred specific microhabitats. Even the common taxa, including the Carabidae and Formicidae families, were found to have different abundance distributions in above and belowground soil layers across shrub microhabitats. Total abundance distribution was found to differ, while taxon-richness and Shannon-index distributions were similar in above and belowground parts across the shrub microhabitats. Markedly higher taxon-richness and Shannon-index values were found beneath the shrub canopy compared to the open spaces, particularly beneath the A. ordosica shrub canopy. The abundance distribution in above and below ground arthropod communities were affected by the shrub microhabitats along vertical and horizontal axes more than the richness and diversity of these communities. The A. ordosica shrub canopy (compared with the H. scoparium shrub) was found to have greater ecological implications on the spatial distribution of the arthropod communities. All these findings were expected to be helpful for the conservation of biodiversity, shrub plantation management, and desertification control.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)534-548
Number of pages15
JournalPolish Journal of Ecology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2015

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This project was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant no. 41101050), Ningxia Natural Science Foundation (Grant no. NZ15025), and CSC/BU Joint Scholarships of the KORT 25 Postdoc Program and the Project of the Open Fund of the Key Laboratory of Desert and Desertification, China Science Academy (Grant no. KLDD-2014-003). Special thanks to Alison Beamish for the English revision and to Sharon Victor for her comments and for preparing the manuscript for publication.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Polish Academy of Sciences.


  • Above and below ground arthropod
  • Community structure
  • Desertified region
  • Plant canopy
  • Soil microhabitat
  • Vertical distribution


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