Urban greenspaces shape soil protist communities in a location-specific manner

Hua Yuan Shangguan, Stefan Geisen, Zhi Peng Li, Hai Feng Yao, Gang Li* (Corresponding author), Martin F. Breed, Stefan Scheu, Xin Sun* (Corresponding author)

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journal/periodicalArticleScientificpeer-review


The impacts of urbanization on aboveground biodiversity are well studied, and its impact on soil microorganisms are also receiving increased attention. However, the impact of urbanization on the soil protists are hardly investigated. Here, we studied how urbanization and distinct urban greenspaces affect protist communities. We used amplicon sequencing of the18 S rRNA gene of samples from five types of urban greenspaces (parks, greenbelts, industrial areas, residential areas and hospital lawns), neighboring natural forests and agricultural ecosystems in Ningbo, China. We found that urban greenspaces harbored higher protist α-diversity than forests, while protist β-diversity increased from agricultural systems to urban greenspaces to forests. Among the studied driving factors, soil bacterial α- and β-diversity best predicted phagotrophic protist α- and β-diversity in urban greenspaces, while differences in α- and β-diversity of phototrophic protists were best explained by soil carbon-to-nitrogen ratio and fungal β-diversity, respectively. Abiotic factors i.e., total phosphorus and carbon-to-nitrogen ratio, best predicted the α- and β-diversity of protist parasites in urban greenspaces, respectively. The results revealed that the composition and drivers of protist communities vary between functional groups and urban ecosystems. Overall, our findings contribute to a better understanding of drivers of soil protist communities and indicate that soil protist communities and associated soil functions could be managed in predictable ways in urban greenspaces.

Original languageEnglish
Article number117485
JournalEnvironmental Research
Issue number1
Early online date08 Nov 2023
Publication statusPublished - 01 Jan 2024


  • Functional groups
  • Land-use
  • Protists
  • Soil biota
  • Urban greenspaces
  • Urbanization


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