Nematode community composition and diversity associated with a topoclimatic transect in a rain shadow desert

Yosef Steinberger, Wenju Liang, Elena Savkina, Tania Meshi, Ginetta Barness

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21 Scopus citations


The effect of a topoclimatic gradient on soil nematode communities was investigated in the Israeli Judean Desert. Four locations along a 35 km gradient, from an elevation of 650 m above sea level with 620 mm rainfall to a -60 m relative to sea level with a rainfall below 110 m, were studied: Givat Yearim, Maale Adumim, Mishor Adumim and Kalia. Monthly soil samples were collected between January 1994 and December 1995. Thirteen nematode families and 17 genera were observed. Cephalobus, Heterocephalobus, Aphelenchoides, Tylenchus, Dorylaimus and Eudorylaimus were found to be the dominant genera. Ecological measurements of soil nematode community structure, diversity, and maturity indices were assessed, and comparisons between four locations and four seasons were made. Significant differences in the total numbers of nematodes were found between the locations (p < 0.01) and seasons (p < 0.05), where Givat Yearim > Maale Adumim > Mishor Adumim > Kalia, winter > spring > autumn > summer. Bacterivores were found to be the most abundant trophic group across locations and seasons, with a mean relative abundance of 55.0%. The densities of bacterivores, plant parasites and omnivores-predators during the winter season exhibited similar trends at all four locations, with Givat Yearim > Maale Adumim > Mishor Adumim > Kalia. None of the ecological indices were significantly different between locations. However, the maturity index (MI), trophic diversity (TD) and Simpson diversity (SI) exhibited significant differences between seasons.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)315-320
Number of pages6
JournalEuropean Journal of Soil Biology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2001


  • Desert
  • Nematode community
  • Topoclimatic


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