The collembolan abundance and diversity parameters (species richness, Shannon–Wiener index, and Pielou’s index) were calculated using Data Processing System (DPS) (version 2005 package, China).

As in our previous work [32], four collembolan morphological traits (ocelli number, body length, pigmentation level, and furcula development) were selected, as these traits reflect the feeding habits and moving patterns of Collembola [27]. Trait attribute values were assigned according to Santorufo et al. [25] (Table 1), and then the community-weighted mean trait attribute values (CWM) were calculated as follows:

where Xi was the trait attribute of the i-th species and Pi was the relative abundance of the i-th species.

Attributes of collembolan traits.

Two-way ANOVA analysis was performed using SPSS (version 23, IBM, Chicago, IL, USA) to evaluate the effects of maize variety and maize growth stage on collembolan abundance, diversity and collembolan morphological traits (CWM). The maize variety and maize growth stage were used as “between subject” factors. Collembolan abundance was log10(N + 1)-transformed before analyses to ensure normality and equal variances, and Levene’s test of equality for error variances and asymmetry were used to analyze the homogeneity of variance. Tukey’s HSD post hoc test (α = 0.05) was used when significant differences between treatments means occurred.

To better explore the impact of Bt maize variety on soil community composition, the relationship between environmental variables (including maize variety, maize growth stage, soil water content, root biomass, sampling year, and soil pH value) and the collembolan community composition was analyzed by redundancy analysis (RDA) using CANOCO (version 4.5, Microcomputer Power, New York, NY, USA) [43].

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