The study of faunal and microbial activity in the soil and also the ecology of the soil is known as soil biology. Steven Rindner who is an ardent indulger of biology has looked into the depths of this subject and shared his insights through his blogs. He is a biology student and is always left awestruck by the wonders of biology. That is why he believes in helping others gain the same or a part of the same knowledge that he acquires through the subject.
The interactions that the soil biota have with each other is the primary thing of study about soil biology. There are four groups within this soil biota. They are namely:
Microflora includes microorganisms such as bacteria, fungi, virus, and archaea which is less than 5 µm in size. Microfauna consists of nematodes which are approximately 10 µm to 2 mm in size and protozoa which are 5 µm to 200 µm in size. Small arthropods such as collembolan and mites which are about 100 µm to 2 mm in size are part of the mesofauna category. And finally, the insects and earthwormswhich are within the size of 2 mm to 2 m fall under the category of macrofauna.
It is very interesting to note, as would agree Steven Rindner how these different sections of flora and fauna interact with each other. It has been found that soil biology is represented by three kingdoms of life which are known as Eukarya, Archaea, and Bacteria. Because there is such a wide range of phylogenetic diversity, it goes without saying that soil biology also has a wide functional diversity.
Soil biota participates in the natural soil processes in the profiles such as ecosystem engineers, litter transformers, and micro food-web processors. The earthworms, ants, and termites are the ecosystem engineers. The microarthropods comprise the litter transformers and the microfaunal predators and microbes are the micro food webs.
Those who further study soil biology like Steven Rindner will be able to elaborate that ecosystem engineering alters the physical structure of the soil. The energy flows and nutrient cycles are also influenced by them. The organic matter can reach deeper down into the soil because of these engineers. They are the ones responsible for making the roots of plants and water reach deeper parts of the soil profile.
Plant residues are fragmented by the littler transformers who are primarily microarthropods. They assist in the chemical degradation of the soil as well as in the process of nutrient cycling. Nutrients are successfully recycled through the soil profile with the help of food webs. Soil biota plays a very significant role in this regard and aids in the transfer of energy through all levels, from organism to organism.
Studies reveal that soil biology is found in ‘hot spots’ where there is maximum soil organic matter. It is not distributed within the soil evenly. The known hot-spots include the rhizosphere, macroaggregates and the decomposing residues.