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Effect of disturbances on trophic groups in soil nematode assemblages

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For more content, see Nematologica.

Free-living nematodes in soil ecosystems are vital in the decomposition of organic matter and recycling of nutrients. The effects of various types of disturbances on nematode assemblages were examined in several experiments on a single soil: a short-term detrimental disturbance from solarisation, a short-term beneficial disturbance from amendment addition, and a long-term detrimental disturbance from bare ground without plant cover. Comparison of solarised and non-solarised field plots revealed lower numbers of fungivores in solarised plots. As a result, indices involving ratios of fungivores to bacterivores and fungivores to total free-living nematodes were decreased as well. Addition of an amendment increased numbers of bacterivores. This change was also reflected in calculated indices that expressed trophic groups as percentages of the total free-living nematodes. A severely disturbed site with bare ground that was without plant cover for more than 5 years was compared with an adjacent site maintained in grass. No plant-parasitic nematodes were recovered from the bare ground site, which contained lower numbers of nematodes in all trophic groups than the grass site. However, the structure of the free-living nematode assemblages in both sites was similar, as indicated by the proportions of various trophic groups and by ratios of fungivores and bacterivores. The free-living nematode assemblage in a site with a perceived severe long-term disturbance maintained a trophic structure similar to a site with perennial plant cover.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Entomology and Nematology, University of Florida, P.O. Box 110620, Gainesville, FL 32611-0620, USA;, Email:


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