Management effects on soil nematode abundance differ among functional groups and land-use types at a global scale

Xianping Li, Ting Liu, Huixin Li*, Stefan Geisen*, Feng Hu, Manqiang Liu

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Anthropogenic land use is threatening global biodiversity. As one of the most abundant animals on Earth, nematodes occupy several key positions in belowground food webs and contribute to many ecosystem functions and services. However, the effects of land use on nematode abundance and its determinants remain poorly understood at a global scale. To characterize nematodes' responses to land use across trophic groups, we used a dataset of 6,825 soil samples globally to assess how nematode abundance varies among regional land-use types (i.e. primary vegetation, secondary vegetation, pasture, cropland and urban) and local land-use intensities (i.e. human-managed or not). We also quantified the interactive effects of land use and environmental predictors (i.e. mean annual temperature, annual precipitation, soil organic carbon, soil pH, global vegetation biomass and global vegetation productivity) on nematode abundance. We found that total nematode abundance and the abundance of bacterivores, fungivores, herbivores, omnivores and predators generally increased or were not affected under management across land-use types. Specifically, the most numerically abundant bacterivores were higher in managed than in unmanaged secondary vegetation habitats and urban areas, and herbivores were more abundant in managed than in unmanaged primary and secondary vegetation habitats. Furthermore, the numbers of significant environmental predictors of nematode abundance were reduced and the magnitude and the direction of the predictors were changed under management. We also found that nematode abundance was more variable and less determined by environmental factors in urban than in other land-use types. These findings challenge the view that human land use decreases animal abundance across trophic groups, but highlight that land use is altering the trophic composition of soil nematodes and its relationships with the environment at the global scale.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1770-1780
JournalJournal of Animal Ecology
Issue number9
Early online dateMay 2022
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2022


  • animal abundance
  • global scale
  • human land use
  • land-use intensity
  • management
  • soil community
  • soil nematodes
  • trophic groups


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