Trait-mediated diversification in nematode predator–prey systems

C. Mulder, J. Helder, M.T.W. Vervoort, J.A. Vonk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Nematodes are presumably the most numerous Metazoans in terrestrial habitats. They are represented at all trophic levels and are known to respond to nutrient limitation, prey availability, and microbial resources. Predatory nematodes reside at the highest trophic level, and as such their feeding habits could have a major impact on soil food web functioning. Here, we investigate the effects of gender and developmental stage on the nematode body sizes in coarse and loamy soils. Besides Neodiplogasteridae, our predators are much larger than other soil-dwelling nematodes from their early developmental stage onwards. From juvenile to adult, the predatory Aporcelaimellus (Kruskal–Wallis P <0.001), Dorylaimoides, and Tripyla (both P <0.01) show great length increases during their developmental growth, in contrast to their possible prey (almost all P <0.001). Less than 4% of the prey exceeds the length of the predatory adults, but more than 30% of the prey exceeds the length of the predatory juveniles. Potential body size ratios and some physical problems experienced by small fluid feeders attacking large prey are discussed in an attempt to summarize different prey-searching mechanisms and aggregative predatory responses in the soil system
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)386-391
JournalEcology and Evolution
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • mononchus-aquaticus
  • feeding-habits
  • community
  • agroecosystems
  • ecologists


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