Nematode-plant interactions in grasslands under restoration management

B.C. Verschoor

Research output: Thesisinternal PhD, WU


<strong><p>Keywords</strong> : competition, fertilisation, food quality, grassland, herbivory, nitrogen, nutrients, plant-feeding nematodes, productivity, restoration management, succession, synergism, vegetation</p><p>Plant-feeding nematodes may have a considerable impact on the rate and direction of plant succession. In this thesis the interactions between plants and plant-feeding nematodes in grasslands under restoration management were studied. In these grasslands, a management of ceasing fertiliser application and annual hay-making resulted in a succession of high- to low-production plant communities. It was hypothesised that a reduced nutrient availability and the development of species-specific nematode communities under plant species will increase the sensitivity of plant species to nematode herbivory. This may result in the replacement of such plant species by plant species that are better adapted to nutrient-poor conditions. The reduction in nutrient supplies resulted in a gradual succession of plants and plant-feeding nematodes. Alterations in the species composition of the plant community, but particularly qualitative changes within each plant species after the cessation of fertiliser application affected the plant-feeding nematode succession. Indications were found that the nematode numbers were positively related to the root nitrogen concentrations. Estimations of nematode consumption in the field indicated that in local hotspots nematodes may have a considerable impact on plant productivity. In experimental studies, however, the effects of nematodes on plant productivity were in general small. Some evidence was found that plant-feeding nematodes can affect the competition between an early- and late-successional plant species in favour of the latter, but I did not find experimental evidence that plants under nutrient-poor growth conditions were more sensitive to nematode herbivory. Neither did I find clear-cut evidence for species-specific suppression of plant species by nematodes. It was suggested, therefore, that in addition to progressing nutrient stress, plant species-specific differences in tolerance to plant-feeding nematodes, rather than host specificity of nematodes, may determine the plant species replacement during reversed succession in grasslands. It is concluded that plant-feeding nematodes are potentially an important biotic factor in the succession of plant communities, but their impact on the succession in grasslands under restoration management has yet to be further elucidated. So far the results suggest that the succession of the plant-feeding nematode community is probably more affected by changes in the plant community than the other way round.</p><font size="2"><p> </p></font>
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Wageningen University
  • Brussaard, Lijbert, Promotor
  • de Goede, Ron, Promotor
Award date3 Oct 2001
Place of PublicationS.l.
Print ISBNs9789058084552
Publication statusPublished - 2001


  • plant parasitic nematodes
  • grasslands
  • grassland management
  • fertilizers
  • application rates
  • crop production
  • plant succession
  • rehabilitation
  • restoration management


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