More than just a substrate for mites: Moss-dominated biological soil crust protected population of the oribatid mite, Oppia nitens against cadmium toxicity in soil

Hamzat O. Fajana*, Tara Rozka, Olukayode Jegede, Katherine Stewart, Steven D. Siciliano

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Metal-impacted sites often need aggressive ecorestoration strategies to restore a functional plant-soil system. The use of biological soil crusts for soil stabilization, moisture retention and C and N input in disturbed and contaminated soils is becoming a more common ecorestoration practice. Biological soil crusts comprise cyanobacteria, fungi, lichens, and bryophytes (mostly moss). Moss-dominated BSCs provide significant N mineralization rate in most terrestrial ecosystems. Oribatid mites or moss mites dominate moss-dominated BSCs and provide essential ecosystem services such as decomposition and nutrient cycling. We hypothesized that moss-dominated BSCs would create a high-quality habitat niche for O. nitens to resist Cd-induced toxicity. Adult mites were exposed to Cd for 28 days in soil with or without BSCs that were aged for eight months. Cadmium toxicity to mites in soil without BSCs was 1.7 and 5.4times greater than in soil with BSCs, respectively for the mites reproduction and instantaneous population growth rate (PGRi). The moss-dominated BSC did not reduce Cd bioavailability in the mites but increased the mite's resilience to Cd toxicity, likely mediated by the trophic transfer of calcium from the BSC to the mites. Our work identifies a second mechanistic avenue by which BSCs are useful for ecorestoration, i.e., the improvement of soil invertebrate physiology to resist metal stress.

Original languageEnglish
Article number159553
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Volume857
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jan 2023

Keywords

  • Biological soil crusts
  • Cadmium
  • Habitat quality
  • Oribatid mites
  • Soil ecotoxicology
  • Soil invertebrates

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