Spatial turnover and nested-resultant are the two fundamental components of β-diversity, which have been attributed to various processes of community assembly. We calculated the spatial turnover and nested-resultant components of soil nematode β-diversity based on the β-partitioning framework. Distance matrices for the dissimilarity of soil nematode communities were computed using the ‘Sørensen’ method. We fitted negative exponential models to compare the distance decay patterns in nematode community similarity with geographic distance and plant community distance in three vegetation types (desert, desert steppe and typical steppe) and along the whole transect. Variation partitioning was used to distinguish the contribution of geographic distance and environmental variables to β-diversity and the partitioned components.
Geographic distance and environmental filtering jointly drove the β-diversity patterns of nematode community, but environmental filtering explained more of the variation in β-diversity in the desert and typical steppe, whereas geographic distance was important in the desert steppe. Nematode community assembly was explained more by the spatial turnover component than by the nested-resultant component. For nematode feeding groups, the β-diversity in different vegetation types increased with geographic distance and plant community distance, but the nested-resultant component of bacterial feeders in the desert ecosystem decreased with geographic distance and plant community distance.
Our findings show that spatial variation in soil nematode communities is regulated by environmental processes at the vegetation type scale, while spatial processes mainly work on the regional scale, and emphasize that the spatial patterns and drivers of nematode β-diversity differ among trophic levels. Our study provides insight into the ecological processes that maintain soil biodiversity and biogeographic patterns of soil community assemblage at large spatial scales.