Earthworms could affect soil C and N cycling process to balance their energy and nutrients requirements, and they could also regulate soil microbial community structure and microbial acquisition for C and N. However, the connection between faunal and microbial stoichiometry in the coupling soil C and N cycling remains poorly understood. In a controlled laboratory experiment, we amended soil with five litters differing in litter chemistry (clover, maize stover, wheat straw, Rumex and bagasse fiber) including a no litter control and treated them without or with earthworms (Metaphire guillelmi). After 90 d incubation, we examined changes in earthworm tissue and microbial stoichiometry and different soil C and N fractions. Earthworm tissue C content was rather stable compared with the fluctuation in tissue N, implying that C is under stronger control and associated with higher demand than N. The presence of earthworm significantly enhanced CO2 emissions and decreased particulate organic carbon (POC) and soil organic carbon (SOC) contents in the low lignin litter species clover, maize stover and wheat straw. Meanwhile, earthworm presence increased N2O cumulative emissions but exerted negligible effects on particulate organic nitrogen (PON) and soil total nitrogen (TN) contents irrespective of litter species. Correspondingly, earthworm regulated microbial C and N acquisition as C to N-degrading enzyme activity ratio were nearly doubled in the low lignin litter species clover, maize stover and wheat straw, while it was decreased in the high lignin litter species Rumex and bagasse fiber. However, the structural equation modeling indicated C loss induced by earthworms was mainly attributed to their effects on soil fungi and bacteria abundance, while much less related to C-degrading enzyme activities. In conclusion, litter species controlled earthworm effects on soil C and N loss and associated microbial acquisition for C and N, highlighting the pivotal role of resource chemistry in the regulation of soil fauna impact on soil functioning and ecosystem services.
- C and N fractions
- Earthworm-microbe competition
- Enzyme activities
- Litter chemistry
- Soil fauna