06 Feb 2023
 | 06 Feb 2023

Bioturbation enhances C and N contents on near-surface soils in resource-deficient arid climate regions but shows adverse effects in more temperate climates

Diana Kraus, Roland Brandl, Jörg Bendix, Paulina Grigusova, Sabrina Köhler, Annegret Larsen, Patricio Pliscoff, Kirstin Übernickel, and Nina Farwig

Abstract. Bioturbating animals can affect physical and chemical soil properties on near-surface soil by either foraging for food or constructing suitable habitats. Thereby, bioturbation can influence the soil texture either sorting or mixing the different grain sizes clay, silt and sand during burrowing. Additionally, bioturbating animals can increase the macronutrients carbon (C), nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) through the transport of nutrients by vertically mixing the soil column and the addition of the bioturbators’ feces to the soil surface. To date, it is not clear how the effects of bioturbation on soil properties vary along an ecological gradient. Therefore, we compared the physical properties clay, silt and sand and the chemical contents of the macronutrients C, N and P for soil samples from mounds and the surrounding area as controls in three different climatic regions (arid, semi-arid and Mediterranean) of coastal Chile. To do so, we calculated the difference between the concentrations of paired mound and control samples. When comparing soil texture, we did not find significant differences between mound and control soil samples. For the macronutrient contents, the difference between mound and control C and N contents increased in the arid site and decreased in the two other research sites with increasing vegetation cover. Since we aimed to cover bioturbation patterns on a broader scale, we additionally compared our findings to other bioturbation studies performed in different biomes. Thereby, we found that other studies also show small differences in soil properties caused by bioturbation which are already sufficient to increase soil fertility.

Diana Kraus et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • CC1: 'Comment on egusphere-2022-1427', Jiří Tůma, 10 Feb 2023
  • RC1: 'Comment on egusphere-2022-1427', Anonymous Referee #1, 14 Feb 2023
  • RC2: 'Comment on egusphere-2022-1427', Anonymous Referee #2, 06 Mar 2023

Diana Kraus et al.


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Short summary
We investigate the effect of bioturbators on near-surface soil by measuring the physical properties clay, silt and sand and the chemical macronutrients C, N and P for soil samples taken from mounds created via bioturbation and soil samples from surrounding soil as controls in three different climatic regions (arid, semi-arid and Mediterranean) in coastal Chile. Our findings show that already minor input of especially C and N by bioturbators in arid climates can impact ecosystem functioning.