Zoological Studies

Vol. 51 No. 7, 2012

Forest Fire Modifies Soil Free-Living Nematode Communities in the Biriya Woodland of Northern Israel

Stanislav Pen-Mouratov1, Orit Ginzburg1, Walter G. Whitford2, and Yosef Steinberger1,*

1The Mina & Everard Goodman Faculty of Life Sciences, Bar-Ilan University, Ramat-Gan 52900, Israel
2USDA-ARS Jornada Experimental Range, MSC 3JER, New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, NM 88003, USA

Stanislav Pen-Mouratov, Orit Ginzburg, Walter G. Whitford, and Yosef Steinberger (2012) We hypothesized that differential tree damage caused by fire in a Mediterranean conifer forest would reduce soil free-living nematode abundances and species diversity and affect the nematode communityʼs trophic structure.  Nematode communities were examined in soil samples collected from 4 subsites according to damage caused by the fire: all trees completely burned; burned trees with some live canopy foliage; burned trees removed by salvage logging, and a patch of unburned forest.  Abundances of 2 bacterium-feeding nematode genera (Cephalobus spp. and Acrobeloides spp.) were higher in burned forest soils than in unburned forest soils.  Other species of bacteria-feeding nematodes were less abundant in burned forest soils than in unburned forest soils.  There was no effect of fire on the abundances of fungus-feeding nematodes.  Eight of 13 species of omnivore-predator nematode genera were more abundant in unburned forest soils than in burned forest soils.  Only 2 omnivore-predators with very low abundances were found in soils of the burned forest but were absent from unburned forest soils.  Fire resulted in a lower trophic diversity, lower generic diversity, and lower generic richness in burned forest soils than in unburned forest soils.  The fungivore-bacterivore ratio was similar in burned and unburned areas.  Maturity indices were lower in burned than in unburned forest soils.  The reported increased abundance of bacterium-feeding nematodes 6 wk after the fire remained consistent in burned forest soils 2 yr post-burn in this study.  Other short-term changes in nematode communities did not persist in this study during the 2nd year post-burn. 

Key words: Bacteria-feeding nematodes, Diversity, Fungivores, Omnivore-predators, Plant-parasitic nematodes.

*Correspondence: Tel: 972-3-5318571.  Fax: 972-3-7384058.  E-mail:yosef.steinberger@biu.ac.il