Previous studies on biodiversity and soil food web composition have mentioned plant species identity, as well as plant species diversity as the main factors affecting the abundance and diversity of soil organisms. However, most studies have been carried out under limitations of time, space, or appropriate controls. In order to further examine the relation between plant species diversity and the soil food web, we conducted a three-year semi-field experiment in which eight plant species (4 forb and 4 grass species) were grown in monocultures and mixtures of two, four and eight plant species. In addition there were communities with 16 plant species. We analyzed the abundance and identity of the nematodes in soil and roots, including feeding groups from various trophic levels (primary and secondary consumers, carnivores, and omnivores) in the soil food web. Plant species diversity and plant identity affected the diversity of nematodes. The effect of plant diversity was attributed to the complementarity in resource quality of the component plant species rather than to an increase in total resource quantity. The nematode diversity varied more between the different plant species than between different levels of plant species diversity, so that plant identity is more important than plant diversity. Nevertheless the nematode diversity in plant mixtures
Original languageEnglish
Journal publication date2004

ID: 103968