Microfauna community assembly and cascading relationship with microflora in cropland ecosystems along a latitudinal gradient

Xiaotong Liu, Xiaoke Zhang, Yijia Tian, Yingbin Li, Xiaofang Du, Hanwen Liu, Yosef Steinberger, Wenju Liang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Cropland ecosystems are environmentally more homogeneous than natural ecosystems due to anthropogenic management. However, it is unclear whether there is similar convergence in soil fauna diversity and community assembly in croplands with different latitudes. Therefore, the study on the latitudinal pattern and community assembly processes of soil microfauna across a transect spanning 3200 km of croplands was conducted. The results indicated that the β diversity of plant parasites, fungivores, and bacterivores showed a decreasing trend and that of omnivores-predators at higher levels followed a unimodal distribution along a latitudinal gradient. The dissimilarity of soil microfauna communities increased with geographical distance, which exhibited a strong distance decay pattern. The β diversity partitioning analysis suggested that species replacement had the greatest influence for all trophic groups, except for omnivores-predators that were driven by a combination of richness differences and species replacement. The stochastic processes shaping the microfauna assembly prevailed over deterministic processes. Ecological drift and homogenizing dispersal of the stochastic processes accounted for 50.4% and 37% of total variations respectively, and heterogeneous selection of the deterministic processes for 10%. Both soil and climatic factors had a direct impact on soil microflora and plant parasites, and indirect impact on bacterivores, fungivores, and omnivores-predators through mediating microflora communities. The partial least squares path modeling and co-occurrence analysis all showed that the soil microfauna assembly was inextricably linked to soil microflora and their network complexity exhibited a significant increasing trend along the latitudinal gradient. Further studies are needed to optimize the molecular database of soil microfauna and construct models for predicting their community distribution patterns.

Original languageEnglish
Article number108678
JournalAgriculture, Ecosystems and Environment
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 Elsevier B.V.


This research was supported by National Key Research and Development Plan , China ( 2022YFD1500601 ), the National Science and Technology Fundamental Resources Investigation Program of China ( 2018FY100304 ), Natural Science Foundation of China ( U22A20501 , 41977054 ), Shenyang Science and Technology Plan Program ( 213552 ), and Liaoning Outstanding Innovation Team ( XLYC2008015 ). We appreciated that Xiaofeng Zhu, Zhimei Sun, Congli Wang, Qiong Zhao, Xiaoyun Chen, Le Zhang, and Chunling Xu provided help for soil sampling. We appreciated that Prof. Zhangfeng Liu and Huijie Qiao provided the helpful suggestions for writing the manuscript.

FundersFunder number
Liaoning Outstanding Innovation TeamXLYC2008015
National Science and Technology Fundamental Resources Investigation Program of China2018FY100304
Shenyang Science and Technology Plan Program213552
National Natural Science Foundation of China41977054, U22A20501
National Key Research and Development Program of China2022YFD1500601


    • Community assembly
    • Cropland ecosystems
    • Latitudinal pattern
    • Soil microfauna
    • Soil microflora


    Dive into the research topics of 'Microfauna community assembly and cascading relationship with microflora in cropland ecosystems along a latitudinal gradient'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this