Urbanization alters the functional composition, but not taxonomic diversity, of the soil nematode community

Mitchell A. Pavao-Zuckerman, David C. Coleman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

64 Scopus citations


We evaluated the response of riparian forest soil nematode community structure to the physico-chemical environment associated with urban land use. Soils were sampled seasonally between December 2000 and October 2002 along an urban-rural transect in Asheville, North Carolina. We characterized the taxonomic (to genus) and functional composition (trophic groups) of the nematode community of forest soils, as well as several nematode ecological indicators (maturity index, channel index, weighted faunal index). The diversity of nematode genera was not affected by urban land use. However, there tended to be functional differences in the nematode communities along the land use gradient. The urban soils tended to have lower abundances of predatory and omnivorous nematodes. Differences in channel index scores indicated that there was less fungal dominance in the soil food webs of the urban soils. Our results indicate that the functional composition of the soil food web is an important component of soil biodiversity that can be affected by land use practices. This study was conducted in a relatively small city; hence the influence of pollutants on the soil environment was not as great as in larger cities. Correspondingly, the impact on the soil nematode community was not very severe. The utilization of the nematode community assemblage as an indicator of soil conditions should be further explored in urban places of differing magnitudes of environmental effects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)329-339
Number of pages11
JournalApplied Soil Ecology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Disturbance
  • Diversity
  • Faunal analysis
  • Food webs
  • Maturity index
  • Nematoda
  • Urban soils

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Soil Science


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