Open Access

Agricultural intensification and urbanization negatively impact soil nematode richness and abundance: a meta-analysis


Human activity has extensively transformed the land surface by agricultural intensification and urbanization. In soil, nematodes are the most abundant invertebrates. The effect of human interventions was assessed on overall richness, overall abundance, richness and abundance of nematodes of each trophic group and colonizer-persister (c-p) guild by comparing urban, agriculture and disturbed grassland (DGL) with natural grassland (NGL) and forest ecosystems. Meta-analyses were conducted to generate quantitative summaries from 111 published articles that met the inclusion criteria, 91 expressed data in grams and 20 expressed data in cm3. Results from data expressed per 100 g of soil indicated that overall richness was higher in forest than in NGL, DGL, urban, and agriculture ecosystems. The richness of all c-p guilds and of all trophic groups except herbivores was highest in forest ecosystems. In contrast, overall abundance was highest in DGL, agriculture and forest ecosystems. The abundance of c-p 1, c-p 2 and c-p 3 guilds and bacterivores, fungivores and herbivores was highest in disturbed ecosystems, while the abundance of c-p 4 and c-p 5 guilds and predators and omnivores was highest in relatively undisturbed ecosystems. Results from data expressed as nematodes per 100 cm3 of soil indicated that abundance followed a similar pattern, but richness often differed between the two methodologies. These meta-analyses strengthen the concept that human interventions adversely impact both richness and abundance using nematodes as soil health bioindicators.

Publication timeframe:
Volume Open
Journal Subjects:
Life Sciences, other