Influence of bacterivorous nematodes on the decomposition of cordgrass

I De Mesel, S Derycke, J Swings, M Vincx, T Moens

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    The influence of bacterivorous nematodes (Diplolaimelloides meyli, Diplolaimelloides oschei, Diplolaimella dievengatensis, Panagrolaimus paetzoldi) on the decomposition of a macrophyte (Spartina anglica) in an aquatic environment was investigated by using laboratory microcosm experiments. Several earlier studies have shown enhancement of the decomposition process in the presence of nematodes, but nematode species-specific effects were never tested. In this study four bacterivorous nematode species were applied separately to microcosms to investigate such species-specific influences. No stimulation of the decomposition process nor of the microbial community was observed in the presence of the nematodes, both were highest in the absence of nematodes. However, clear differences were found between nematode treatments. P. paetzoldi reached much higher numbers than the other species, causing a decrease in microbial activity, probably due to (over)grazing. Remarkably this low microbial activity did not result in a slow-down of the decomposition process compared to the other nematode treatments, raising the question whether P. paetzoldi might be able to directly assimilate detrital compounds. Other nematode species reached much lower densities, but nevertheless an influence on the decomposition process was observed. However, this experiment does not support the view that bacterivorous nematodes enhance decomposition rate. The experimental results show that in nematode communities the use of functional groups is inadequate for biodiversity studies. The four nematode species used in this study belong to the same functional group, but are clearly not functionally redundant since they all have a different influence on the cordgrass decomposition. This suggests that the relationship between nematode species diversity and ecosystem functioning may be idiosyncratic. (C) 2003 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
    TaalEngels
    TijdschriftJournal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology
    Volume296
    Exemplaarnummer2
    Pagina's (van-tot)227-242
    Aantal pagina's16
    ISSN0022-0981
    DOI's
    StatusGepubliceerd - 2-dec-2003

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