A“Dirty” Footprint: Macroinvertebrate diversity in Amazonian Anthropic Soils

Wilian C. Demetrio, Ana C. Conrado, Agno N. S. Acioli, Alexandre Casadei Ferreira, Marie L. C. Bartz, Samuel W. James, Elodie Da Silva, Lilianne S. Maia, Gilvan C. Martins, Rodrigo S. Macedo, David W.G. Stanton, Patrick Lavelle, Elena Velasquez, Anne Zangerlé, Rafaella Barbosa, Sandra Celia Tapia‐Coral, Aleksander W. Muniz, Alessandra Santos, Talita Ferreira, Rodrigo F. SegallaThibaud Decaëns, Herlon S. Nadolny, Clara P. Peña‐Venegas, Cláudia M.B.F. Maia, Amarildo Pasini, André F. Mota, Paulo S. Taube Júnior, Telma A.C. Silva, Lilian Rebellato, Raimundo C. de Oliveira Júnior, Eduardo G. Neves, Helena P. Lima, Rodrigo M. Feitosa, Pablo Vidal Torrado, Doyle Mckey, Charles R. Clement, Myrtle P. Shock, Wenceslau G. Teixeira, Antônio Carlos V. Motta, Vander F. Melo, Jeferson Dieckow, Marilice C. Garrastazu, Leda S. Chubatsu, Peter Kille, George G. Brown, Luís Cunha

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    Amazonian rainforests, once thought to be pristine wilderness, are increasingly known to have been widely inhabited, modified, and managed prior to European arrival, by human populations with diverse cultural backgrounds. Amazonian Dark Earths (ADEs) are fertile soils found throughout the Amazon Basin, created by pre-Columbian societies with sedentary habits. Much is known about the chemistry of these soils, yet their zoology has been neglected. Hence, we characterised soil fertility, macroinvertebrate communities and their activity at nine archaeological sites in three Amazonian regions in ADEs and adjacent reference soils under native forest (young and old) and agricultural systems. We found 673 morphospecies and, despite similar richness in ADEs (385 spp.) and reference soils (399 spp.), we identified a tenacious pre-Columbian footprint, with 49% of morphospecies found exclusively in ADEs. Termite and total macroinvertebrate abundance were higher in reference soils, while soil fertility and macroinvertebrate activity was higher in the ADEs, and associated with larger earthworm quantities and biomass. We show that ADE habitats have a unique pool of species, but that modern land use of ADEs decreases their populations, diversity, and contributions to soil functioning. These findings support the idea that humans created and sustained high-fertility ecosystems that persist today, altering biodiversity patterns in Amazonia. [Abstract copyright: This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.]
    Original languageEnglish
    Article number15752
    Pages (from-to)4575-4591
    Number of pages17
    JournalGlobal Change Biology
    Issue number19
    Early online date12 Jun 2021
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2021


    • Amazonian Dark Earths
    • Soil fauna
    • Terra Preta
    • ants
    • archaeological sites
    • disturbance
    • earthworms
    • land-use change
    • soil fertility
    • termites


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