Nematode community development early in ecological restoration: The role of organic amendments Academic Article uri icon


  • Soil food web structure is an integral component of ecosystem function, but there are few strategies orientated towards managing its development in restoration projects. The objective of this study was to direct nematode community structure and function through the application of organic amendments to the soil of an urban landfill remediation project using native grassland vegetation. We used a 2 3 factorial design in which an organic amendment was added to the soil at different locations (incorporated versus surface-applied) and amounts (none, light, heavy). Nematode and plant community structure were monitored over three growing seasons to determine the rate and direction of change. Surface application of organic amendments supported greater grass and total plant densities compared to incorporated amendment treatments, but plant density did not vary with amendment amount. Total nematode density, family diversity and family richness were not affected by the amendment treatments, but both family richness and seasonal nematode density increased over the duration of the experiment. Other descriptors of nematode community development (Structure, Maturity, and Plant Parasite Indexes) were not influenced by either amendment amount or location, but varied significantly over time. Contrary to expectations, the surface amendment treatments significantly increased bacterivorous, plant parasitic, omnivorous and predator nematode densities, but had no influence on fungi/root-tip feeding nematodes. Also contrary to our hypotheses, the surface treatments had smaller Channel Index and greater Enrichment Index values relative to the incorporated treatments during the first 15 month of the experiment. We hypothesize that the surface amendments are indirectly affecting the structure of the nematode community by promoting greater plant density, thus increasing the concentration of high-quality organic matter (such as root exudates) in the soil. This promotes the development of a nematode community dominated by opportunistic groups that respond rapidly to increased resource availability. Future studies should aim to distinguish between the organic amendment's direct function as a potential food source for the soil biota versus their indirect role as an environmental variable, including their capability to alter the availability of plant-derived resources. 2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

published proceedings


author list (cited authors)

  • Biederman, L. A., Boutton, T. W., & Whisenant, S. G.

citation count

  • 37

complete list of authors

  • Biederman, Lori A||Boutton, Thomas W||Whisenant, Steven G

publication date

  • September 2008