Soil nematode assemblage responds weakly to grazer exclusion on a nutrient-rich seabird island

Andriuzzi, Walter S.; Keith, Aidan M. ORCID:; Bardgett, Richard D.; van der Wal, René. 2013 Soil nematode assemblage responds weakly to grazer exclusion on a nutrient-rich seabird island. European Journal of Soil Biology, 58. 38-41.

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The effects of aboveground herbivores on plant-soil interactions are highly context dependent and a key underlying factor controlling this is thought to be nutrient availability. Here, we tested whether the effects of vertebrate grazing on the soil food web varied with nutrient availability and hypothesised that soil food web structure would be driven more by the exclusion of vertebrate grazers than by nutrient enrichment. An 8-year long grazer exclusion experiment was performed in grasslands on a small Scottish island near soil nutrient-enriching seabird colonies at the coast and in less fertile conditions inland. We investigated the trophic structure of the soil nematode assemblage as a proxy for soil food web structure. Across all eight study sites the bacterial energy channel was predominant over the fungal channel. Grazer exclusion strongly enhanced plant biomass accumulation and although this tended to be associated with a somewhat lower abundance of bacterial-feeders, this effect was non-significant and surprisingly weak given the observed changes aboveground. Indeed, plant species identity, diversity and dominance were, just as any other vegetation descriptor, weak predictors of nematode trophic structure. Instead, site specific conditions were important, despite the small island area and apparently homogenous sampling conditions.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
Programmes: CEH Topics & Objectives 2009 - 2012 > Biodiversity > BD Topic 1 - Observations, Patterns, and Predictions for Biodiversity > BD - 1.3 - Long-term/large-scale monitoring and experiments ...
CEH Topics & Objectives 2009 - 2012 > Biodiversity > BD Topic 2 - Ecological Processes in the Environment > BD - 2.1 - Interactions ... structure ecosystems and their functioning
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: Parr
ISSN: 1164-5563
Additional Keywords: soil food web, nematode feeding groups, grazing, trophic structure, aboveground–belowground interaction, exclosure
NORA Subject Terms: Ecology and Environment
Date made live: 25 Jun 2013 13:32 +0 (UTC)

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