|Effects of management practices on nematode community structure in tallgrass prairie
|Year of Publication
|Applied Soil Ecology
|disturbance, fire, Mowing, Nematode, nitrogen, tallgrass prairie, Trophic structure
The effects of burning, mowing, and nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) fertilization on the trophic structure of a tallgrass prairie nematode community were examined in a long-term field experiment established in 1986. Nematode densities and trophic composition were determined in October of 1987, 1989, and 1994 following 2, 4, and 9 years of treatment, respectively. Total populations of obligate herbivores tended to increase with annual burning and N fertilization but responses by individual taxa were relative to the structure and composition of vegetation as determined by management practice. In contrast, mowing resulted in consistent reductions in herbivore densities. The family Tylenchidae, with species classified as both root and fungal feeders, exhibited short-term decreases in numbers due to burning and long-term increases in numbers due to mowing. Treatment responses by this group were more consistent with the behavior of known fungal-feeding than root-feeding nematodes. Microbivore densities increased with burning and N fertilization, while numbers of omnivores and predators declined with chronic N additions. The effects of P fertilization on nematode population densities varied with management practice, primarily N fertilization. Canonical discriminant analysis differentiated trophic groups based on their responses to mowing and P-fertilization. Measurements of the trophic composition of the nematode community, particularly the relative abundance of individual herbivore taxa and the proportion of fungivores to microbivores, were good indicators of ecosystem responses to management practices.