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Dataset associated with "Artefactual depiction of predator–prey trophic linkages in global soils"


Soil invertebrates contribute to multiple ecosystem services, including pest control, nutrient cycling, and soil structural regulation, yet trophic interactions that determine their diversity and activity in soils remain critically understudied. Here, we systematically review literature (1966–2020) on feeding habits of soil arthropods and macrofauna and summarize empirically studied predator–prey linkages across ecosystem types, geographies and taxa. Out of 522 unique predators and 372 prey organisms (constituting 1947 predator–prey linkages), the vast majority (> 75%) are only covered in a single study. We report a mean of just 3.0 ± 4.7 documented linkages per organism, with pronounced taxonomic biases. In general, model organisms and crop pests (generally Insecta) are well-studied, while important soil-dwelling predators, fungivores and detritivores (e.g., Collembola, Chilopoda and Malacostraca) remain largely ignored. We argue that broader food-web based research approaches, considering multiple linkages per organism and targeting neglected taxa, are needed to inform science-driven management of soil communities and associated ecosystem services.


This database contains results from an exploratory literature search (carried out over May-July 2020) to detect the trophic linkages that departed from an initial set of 36 common soil-dwelling invertebrate taxa (i.e., in the capacity of either predator or prey items). It consists of a non-exhaustive list of macro-, meso- and micro-fauna which did not necessarily include all common soil fauna (e.g., Amphipoda). For each literature record, we logged the resource and consumer organisms for each trophic linkage. For generalist (i.e., polyphagous) predators that foraged within/on soil substrates, we logged all trophic linkages that were outlined in each literature record (i.e., involving other organisms beyond the initial set of 36 taxa). Taxa were identified either at the taxonomic hierarchy of phylum, sub-class or order and comprised a diverse set of common, globally-distributed soil-foraging biota.
Department of Soil & Crop Sciences

Rights Access


soil ecology
biological control
food webs
sustainable agriculture
global change
soil health


Associated Publications

Wyckhuys, K.A.G., Nguyen, H. & Fonte, S.J. Artefactual depiction of predator–prey trophic linkages in global soils. Sci Rep 11, 23861 (2021).