Allometric equations for estimating fresh biomass of five soil macroinvertebrate species from neotropical agroecosystems



Coulis M & Joly F (2017) Allometric equations for estimating fresh biomass of five soil macroinvertebrate species from neotropical agroecosystems. European Journal of Soil Biology, 83, pp. 18-26.

Accurate estimation of soil macroinvertebrate fresh biomass is crucial to link macroinvertebrate community to ecosystem functions, but remains a challenging task under field conditions. Here, we present allometric equations to estimate the fresh biomass of three diplopods (Rhinocricidae), one earthworm (Glossoscolescidae) and one earwig species (Anisolabididae) that are abundant in soil communities and potentially important for the provision of soil ecological functions in tropical agroecosystems. Body length, body width, and body volume, were measured using a novel method of image analysis, and then used to estimate the fresh biomass. Our results show that length-biomass allometric relationships provide reliable estimation of fresh biomass for diplopods (r2 = 0.98) and earwigs (r2 = 0.97). However, the biomass of earthworms was not as accurately predicted by body length (r2 = 0.82). The use of body volume, estimated with body length and width, allowed to increase the predictive power for earthworms. Furthermore, a general allometric equation based on body volume, including all taxa considered in this study, was found to predict 96% of the observed body weight variability, suggesting that this equation could be generalizable to a large range of soil macroinvertebrates. Therefore, we conclude that using body volume could provide a better accuracy in estimating soil macroinvertebrate biomass. Although the estimation of body volume on each individual requires an additional measure, the use of image analysis software renders this step feasible for a large number of individuals. By improving the feasibility of trait measurements, this method may facilitate field surveys and foster trait-based studies on soil macroinvertebrates.

Earthworms; Millipedes; Earwigs; Body volume; Body weight; Body length

European Journal of Soil Biology: Volume 83

FundersEuropean Regional Development Fund
Publication date30/11/2017
Publication date online07/10/2017
Date accepted by journal19/09/2017

People (1)


Dr Francois-Xavier Joly

Dr Francois-Xavier Joly

Lecturer in Soil, Biological and Environmental Sciences