Springer Online Journal Archives 1860-2000
Agriculture, Forestry, Horticulture, Fishery, Domestic Science, Nutrition
Summary The soil fauna of 23 sites in the Mariut region, west of Alexandria, Egypt, was sampled monthly or seasonally for periods of 1,5–2.5 years. These sites range from unutilized littoral sand dunes, to free-grazing pasture, to low- and high-intensity dry farming, to irrigated agriculture. The average population densities of the encountered taxa were compared by corresponding analysis and by ascending hierarchic classification. With intensification of the agricultural practices, true detritivores of the original system, capable of dealing with the available plant and animal litter and adapted to the harsh desert climate, are replaced by other mesic detritivores adapted to the changes in litter quality (less animal and more plant) and also adapted to the new physical and chemical soil conditions. Meanwhile, the increase in plant biomass encourages the appearance and proliferation of cryptic phytophages (agricultural pests), occupying the niche of the removed large (domestic) herbivores. Carnivores (e.g.Carabidae) also change accordingly. Sites can thus be characterized on the basis of their soil faunas, according to the stage of their evolution, and a system of exchange of missing key taxa between sites should be established.
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