Biology and Fertility of Soils

, Volume 44, Issue 5, pp 727–744 | Cite as

Nematode diversity, food web condition, and chemical and physical properties in different soil habitats of an organic farm

  • Sara Sánchez-MorenoEmail author
  • Sean Smukler
  • Howard Ferris
  • Anthony T. O’Geen
  • Louise E. Jackson
Original Paper


The aim of this paper was to assess biodiversity among different habitats of an organic farm and the relationships between some soil properties, nematode taxonomic diversity, and soil food web condition. Eight habitats were studied in the farm: ponds, ditches, a riparian corridor, hedgerows, and four agricultural fields (mustard, oats, fallow, and legumes). The undisturbed riparian corridor had higher soil \({\text{NO}}_{\text{3}}^ - - {\text{N}}\) and \({\text{NH}}_4^ + - {\text{N}}\) concentrations, and potentially mineralizable N and higher abundances of bacterivore nematodes and longer food webs. Canonical correlation analysis showed associations between habitats and nematode trophic groups: predatory and bacterial-feeding nematodes in the riparian corridor and hedgerows, omnivore nematodes in the ponds and ditches, and fungal-feeding nematodes in the legume field. Soil chemical and physical properties mirrored the aboveground farm patterns and were more similar among habitats that were or had been cultivated, compared to the riparian corridor. Soil food web indices, based on functional analysis of nematode faunal composition, reflected the aboveground landscape heterogeneity. Discriminant analysis indicated that soil food web indices separated the two most disturbed habitats (ponds and tailwater ditches) from the two least disturbed habitats (the riparian corridor and hedgerows). The indices correlated with soil functioning as inferred by soil properties. Abundance of nematode taxa was not associated with aboveground landscape patterns. The complexity of the soil food web may have been influenced by (1) environmental factors that differed between years, (2) different time periods since disturbance in the various habitats, and (3) movement of nutrients and organisms by water flow between habitats in the farmscale.


Nematodes Farmscale Soil food web Diversity Organic farm 



We greatly appreciate the cooperation of Bruce Rominger for all his help with the project and for providing full access to his farm. Many students in the Jackson Laboratory are thanked for assisting with sampling. Funding was provided by grant 04-51106-02242 from the USDA CSREES Integrated Organic Program. The work was also supported in part by N.S.F. grant DEB-0120169 and by USDA grant 2004-05151.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sara Sánchez-Moreno
    • 1
    • 3
    Email author
  • Sean Smukler
    • 2
  • Howard Ferris
    • 1
  • Anthony T. O’Geen
    • 2
  • Louise E. Jackson
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of NematologyUniversity of California DavisDavisUSA
  2. 2.Department of Land, Air, and Water ResourcesUniversity of California DavisDavisUSA
  3. 3.Departamento de Protección VegetalInstituto Nacional de Investigación y Tecnología Agraria y AlimentariaMadridSpain

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