The response of soil nematode fauna to climate drying and warming in Stipa breviflora desert steppe in Inner Mongolia, China

  • Guogang Zhang
  • Xin Sui
  • Yang Li
  • Meiqing JiaEmail author
  • Zhongwu Wang
  • Guodong Han
  • Lichun WangEmail author
Soils, Sec 5 • Soil and Landscape Ecology • Research Article



Global warming and drying are important environmental issues. Our study aimed to investigate how warming and precipitation changes affect soil nematode communities in an Inner Mongolian desert steppe for 10 years.

Materials and methods

Soil nematodes were extracted by the Baermann funnel method. Changes in the nematode communities under artificial warming and precipitation conditions were assayed by analyzing their abundance and ecological indices.

Results and discussion

Soil nematode abundance decreased significantly by 37.47% under artificial warming; however, there was no significant effect of warming on the nematode community diversity. As for precipitation experiment, the decreased precipitation eliminated some of non-dominant nematode genera, such as Pratylenchus, Helicotylenchus, and Aphelenchus. It caused not only a significant decrease (37.65%) in soil nematode abundance but also a more structured food web and shorter food chain. However, nematode faunal analysis indicated that the soil nematode community was more resistant to drought. Both soil nematode abundance and community diversity increased significantly as increase of precipitation. In particular, the abundance of plant parasitic nematodes increased by 46.69%, which may due to the increase in total nitrogen content in soil. Nematode faunal analysis showed that increased precipitation improved soil environment for the nematodes, and increased food web connectivity and food chain length. However, bacterivorous nematode abundance decreased by 74.39%, and the decomposition pathway of the nematode community had switched from the bacterial channel to the fungal channel.


In the Inner Mongolian steppe, both climate drying and warming had negative impacts on soil nematode abundance; however, only drying affected nematode community diversity and food web structure and slowly changed nematode ecological functions. Increased precipitation may aid soil nematode community recovery.


Climate warming Desert steppe Drought Faunal analysis Soil nematodes 



Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change


Warming treatment


Temperature control;


Water addition treatment


Water reduction treatment


Water control


Bacterivores nematode


Fungivores nematode


Plant parasites nematode


Omnivores/predators nematode


Shannon-Wiener diversity index


Evenness index


Margalef richness index

(1 - λ)

Simpson’s index of diversity


Nematode channel ratio


Maturity index


Plant parasite index


Enrichment index


Structure index


Channel index


Basal index


Colonizer-persister scale value


Funding information

The study was supported by grants from National Natural Science Foundation of China (31770499, 31100330, 31500365, 31560140, 31270502, 41403082, 31300386), Tianjin Science and Technology Support Program (15ZCZDSF00410), Natural Science Foundation of Tianjin city (12JCYBJC19700), National Key R&D Program of China (2016YFC0500504) and the National Science Foundation of Tianjin (18JCYBJC96500).

Supplementary material

11368_2019_2555_MOESM1_ESM.docx (123 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 123 kb).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of Life SciencesTianjin Normal UniversityTianjinChina
  2. 2.Tianjin Key Laboratory of Animal and Plant ResistanceTianjin Normal UniversityTianjinChina
  3. 3.Key laboratory of water resource and environmentTianjin Normal UniversityTianjinChina
  4. 4.College of Grassland, Resources and EnvironmentInner Mongolia Agricultural UniversityHohhotChina
  5. 5.Key Laboratory of the Ministry of Grassland Resources EducationInner Mongolia Agricultural UniversityHohhotChina
  6. 6.Institute of Agricultural environment and resourceJilin Academy of Agricultural SciencesChangchunChina

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