Biology and Fertility of Soils

, Volume 14, Issue 2, pp 99–103 | Cite as

Soil nematode biodiversity

  • Ernest C. Bernard


Nematodes are the most abundant metazoans in soil, and are exceeded in species diversity only by the arthropods. Estimates of nematode diversity in natural and agroecosystems have been based on both species-level taxonomy and trophic-level guilds. Because trophic groups do not act in a unitary manner with respect to environmental alterations, species-level analysis is more meaningful and should be preferred for most kinds of investigations. Nematodes of a biotope have often been considered as mere assemblages, but there is increasing evidence that certain plant associations have characteristic groups of species. This concept has been used by Bongers to develop a maturity index relating nematode families and site stability, and to identify assemblages that colonize disturbed soils. Major constraints on detailed ecological studies of soil nematode faunas are an incomplete understanding of trophic groups and their subsets, the need for repeated sampling of seasonally variable populations, and a severe shortage of taxonomy-competent persons, especially for microbial feeders.

Key words

Nematodes Diveristy Trophic groups Maturity index Community structure 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ernest C. Bernard
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Entomology and Plant PathologyUniversity of TennesseeKnoxvilleUSA

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