Soil microarthropod community testing: A new approach to increase the ecological relevance of effect data for pesticide risk assessment

Sónia Chelinho, Xavier Domene, Pilar Andrés, Tiago Natal-da-Luz, Cláudia Norte, Cristina Rufino, Isabel Lopes, Anabela Cachada, Evaldo Espíndola, Rui Ribeiro, Armando Costa Duarte, José Paulo Sousa

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22 Citations (Scopus)


© 2013 Elsevier B.V. In the present study, a new complementary approach combining the use of the natural soil microarthropod community and conventional test methods was used. The effects of soil contamination with the insecticide carbofuran on two geographically distinct microarthropod communities (Mediterranean and Tropical) were evaluated in their soils of origin under controlled laboratory conditions.After contamination of two agricultural soils from Portugal and Brazil, a gradient of concentrations was prepared. Soil cores were taken from the respective uncontaminated surrounding areas and the mesofauna of three cores was extracted directly to the test soil. After extracting the microarthropod communities to the test soil, these were incubated under laboratory conditions for 4 weeks, after which the mesofauna was extracted again. The organisms were assorted into higher taxonomic groups and Acari and Collembola were respectively assorted into order/sub-order/cohort and family. Collembolans were still classified according to morphological traits and used as a case-study of trait based risk assessment (TERA; Baird et al., 2008) of pesticides.The exposure to insecticide contamination caused the impoverishment of the taxonomic diversity in both communities. Significant shifts in the microarthropod community structure in the different carbofuran treatments were found for both soils, although effects were more pronounced in the assay performed with the soil from Brazil. Collembolans were the most affected group with a strong decline in their abundance. A dose-response relationship was observed, showing a consistent decline on the relative abundance of Isotomidae, closely followed by an increase of Entomobryidae. Contrastingly, Acari (especially Oribatida) tended to increase their numbers with higher concentrations.Trait based analysis of Collembola data suggested that a shift in the functional composition of the communities occurred due to carbofuran soil contamination and that species adapted to deeper soil layers were more vulnerable to insecticide toxicity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)200-209
JournalApplied Soil Ecology
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2014


  • Carbofuran
  • Collembola
  • Community ecotoxicology
  • Diversity
  • Life-traits
  • Tropical


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