Summary

There is an interesting convergence occurring in aboveground and belowground portions of detrital food webs. In both locations, particularly in arid habitats (i.e., in deserts), the food webs are long (7-8 mem-bered) and show extensive amounts of omnivory. By including members of the microfauna (protozoa) and mesofauna (microbivorous nematodes) that have been overlooked often in the past, there are ample amounts of food, because secondary production passes up the food chains. Production efficiencies may reach or exceed 70%, and trophic transfer efficiencies may exceed 20% in various "hot spots" such as rhizospheres, drilospheres, or in any other concentrations of reduced, labile, organic matter. The diversity of nutrient retention and recycling strategies in soil systems continues to increase as more innovative experiments are carried out using a variety of isotopic tracer techniques.

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