Impact of environmental stressors on soil mite populations in grasslands in the northern Chihuahuan Desert

Hilda Soltero Taylor, University of Texas at El Paso


Desertification in the Chihuahuan Desert has been the source of increased attention during the past 30 years. Desertification has resulted in the gradual change of grassland into shrubland. Explanations for these changes range from natural environmental climatic changes to anthropogenic perturbations. ^ The objectives of this study are: (1) to determine the impact of environmental disturbances on soil mite populations, and (2) to determine if soil mites can be used as bioindicators of disturbance and recovery in desert ecosystems. ^ The study was conducted at the Jornada Experimental Range in southern New Mexico, and was set up to investigate the effects of environmental stressors on desert ecosystems. The recovery of the impacted areas was evaluated based on family richness, abundance and diversity of soil mite populations. It was hypothesized that (1) multiple environmental disturbances would have a greater impact on soil mite populations than a single disturbance and that (2) most disturbances reduce mite populations and the interactions between these disturbances would reduce these populations even further. ^ The results also show that most of the disturbances reduced soil mite populations, but multiple interactions only have a minimal negative effect. Based on the results of this study, soil mite populations are affected by natural as well as anthropogenic disturbances; thus soil mites, specifically prostigmatid mites, can be used as bioindicators of the disturbance and recovery of natural and anthropogenic environmental stressors in the northern Chihuahuan Desert grasslands. ^

Subject Area

Biology, Ecology|Biology, Entomology|Environmental Sciences|Engineering, Environmental

Recommended Citation

Taylor, Hilda Soltero, "Impact of environmental stressors on soil mite populations in grasslands in the northern Chihuahuan Desert" (2005). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI3181646.