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In this paper, the possible role of plant parasitic nematodes as a driving force of change in natural vegetation is analysed using the succession at coastal foredunes as a model. In pot trials, when grown in natural substrates from mature stands, seedlings of dominant foredune plants showed poor growth when compared to sterilised substrates. In natural substrates from preceding stages, growth reduction was far less, or even non- significant. Chemical soil treatment with nematicides resulted in enhanced growth of the seedlings. Inoculation of ectoparasitic nematodes reduced plant growth, but only at densities much higher than those occurring in control pots with unsterilised field soil. Identification at species level showed that endoparasitic nematodes are specifically associated with particular plant species. Therefore, it is hypothesised that the distribution of endoparasitic nematodes may be an important factor leading to the specific nature of soil pathogen complexes in coastal foredunes. We discuss the role of endoparasitic nematodes as possible key species in soil communities and compare the possible effects of specific vs. generalistic plant parasitic nematodes in soil communities on vegetation processes. [KEYWORDS: soil pathogen complexes; key species; succession; plant species composition; dune vegetation; functional diversity; redundancy Hippophae-rhamnoides l; harmful soil organisms; coastal sanddunes; l-ssp rhamnoides; arenaria l link; ammophila-arenaria; freeliving nematodes; grassland community; adjoining biotopes;danish coasts]
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)253-262
JournalApplied Soil Ecology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1998

ID: 199367