Authored by: Mark G. St. John , D.A. Crossley , David C. Coleman

Handbook of Soil Sciences Properties and Processes

Print publication date:  November  2011
Online publication date:  November  2011

Print ISBN: 9781439803059
eBook ISBN: 9781439803066
Adobe ISBN:


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Microarthropods are a major fraction of the soil mesofauna, namely, those arthropods with body widths ranging between approximately 0.05 and 2 mm and body lengths between 0.1 and 10 mm (Figure 25.2). This scheme of classification, although imprecise, is practical, defined by the method of sampling. Microarthropods are sampled by collecting a fragment of habitat (e.g., a soil core) and extracting them from it, while macroarthropods (Section 25.4) are usually hand-collected or trapped. Microarthropods are dominated by two groups: springtails (Collembola, a group of near-insect hexapods) and mites (Acari, a subclass of arachnids). Together, springtails and mites account for about 90% of the microarthropods in most soil systems. The remaining 10% of soil microarthropods often include Diplura, Protura, Symphyla, Pauropoda, Pseudoscorpiones, fly (Diptera) larvae, thrips (Thysanoptera), and some small spiders (Araneae), true bugs (Hemiptera), and beetles (Coleoptera). Immature stages of many insect orders are collected from soil samples, and some may be considered microarthropods for purposes of a particular study.

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