European Journal of Soil Biology, 44(3):271-276, 2008. Paper abstract bibtex
The soil fauna is often a neglected group in many large-scale studies of farmland biodiversity due to difficulties in extracting organisms efficiently from the soil. This study assesses the relative efficiency of the simple and cheap sampling method of handsorting against Berlese-Tullgren funnel and Winkler apparatus extraction. Soil cores were taken from grassy arable field margins and wheat fields in Cambridgeshire, UK, and the efficiencies of the three methods in assessing the abundances and species densities of soil macroinvertebrates were compared. Handsorting in most cases was as efficient at extracting the majority of the soil macrofauna as the Berlese-Tullgren funnel and Winkler bag methods, although it underestimated the species densities of the woodlice and adult beetles. There were no obvious biases among the three methods for the particular vegetation types sampled and no significant differences in the size distributions of the earthworms and beetles. Proportionally fewer damaged earthworms were recorded in larger (25 × 25 cm) soil cores when compared with smaller ones (15 × 15 cm). Handsorting has many benefits, including targeted extraction, minimum disturbance to the habitat and shorter sampling periods and may be the most appropriate method for studies of farmland biodiversity when a high number of soil cores need to be sampled. © 2008 Elsevier Masson SAS. All rights reserved.