Insects killed by entomopathogenic nematodes (EPN) represent a resource with which soil arthropods can interact. These interactions can be positive for EPN (e.g., arthropods serve as parasitic or phoretic hosts) or negative (e.g., EPN serve as prey). Plant diversity and soil disturbance may influence these interactions. We investigated the effects of maize and flower strip habitats on microarthropod abundance and community composition in soil surrounding greater wax moth larvae, Galleria mellonella, infected with the EPN Steinernema carpocapsae (Sc). In the first year of the experiment (2005), we compared microarthropod communities responding to burial of Sc-killed insects with a control (no soil disturbance). In 2006, we added two control treatments: burial of freezer-killed insects and sham burial. Soil samples (including G. mellonella) were collected 2 and 20 days (2005) or 2 and 12 days (2006) after application. In 2005, arthropod abundance and community composition were similar between maize and flower strip habitats. In 2006, we detected more arthropods in the maize than the flower strips. In both years, community composition differed between treatments providing resources (Sc-killed and freezer-killed insects) and those without (sham burial and no disturbance), with the greatest difference on the final sampling date. Soil surrounding Sc-killed and freezer-killed insects contained more dipterans, acarid mites, staphylinid beetles, onychiurid and entomobryid collembolans, and immature and male mesostigmatid mites than soil at sham burial and no disturbance sites. Most of these taxa are capable of nematophagy; however, EPN relative abundance was not associated with arthropod community composition.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Soil Science