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

Walter S. Andriuzzi*, Aidan M. Keith, Richard D. Bardgett, René van der Wal

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)38-41
Number of pages4
JournalEuropean Journal of Soil Biology
Volume58
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2013

Keywords

  • Aboveground-belowground interaction
  • Exclosure
  • Grazing
  • Nematode feeding groups
  • Soil food web
  • Trophic structure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Soil Science
  • Microbiology
  • Insect Science

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