Soil microbial activity and a free-living nematode community in the playa and in the sandy biological crust of the Negev Desert

Stanislav Pen-Mouratov, Cheng Hu, Etan Hindin, Yosef Steinberger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations

Abstract

The effect of environmental factors and soil properties on microbial and soil free-living nematode communities was investigated in two desert soil formations, a playa and sandy biological crust. Soil samples were collected from October 2007 to September 2008 from the upper (0-10 cm) soil layers in the Negev Desert area. Unlike microorganisms, soil free-living nematodes were found to be negatively dependent on monthly rain and positively dependent on water evaporation. We suggest that water evaporation from pore caves in both soil formations increases the predation success of soil free-living nematodes, while daily rain increases the survival potential of soil microorganisms since the predators require more time to find their prey. Soil properties were found to have a different influence on microbial and soil free-living nematode communities in the two soil formations. Microbial respiration and biomass were negatively correlated with calcium and potassium in the playa area and with sodium in the sandy biological crust area. The free-living nematode community exhibited a negative correlation with electrical conductivity and sodium and a positive correlation with potassium in the playa samples, while no dependence on soil properties was found in the sandy biological crust samples. It can, therefore, be concluded that soil properties affect predation rate in the playa samples through changes in porosity. Generally accepted ecological indices such as trophic diversity (T), Simpson's dominance (λ), Shannon-Weaver (H′), maturity (MI), and basal (BI) indices pointed to specific ecological conditions at the two observed soil formations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)363-375
Number of pages13
JournalBiology and Fertility of Soils
Volume47
Issue number4
Early online date18 Jan 2011
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2011

Keywords

  • Desert ecosystem
  • Ecological indice
  • Microbial community
  • Nematode community
  • Playa
  • Sandy biological crust

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