Do slope orientation and sampling location determine soil biota composition?

S. Pen-Mouratov, N. Berg, N. Genzer, S. Ukabi, D. Shargil, Y. Steinberger*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


"Evolution Canyon" is a typical Mediterranean-basin canyon with a summer dry stream at the bottom and large differences in vegetation cover and solar radiation between the north-facing slope (NFS) and the south-facing slope (SFS). It is known to act as an abiotic mediator influencing the community structure of soil fauna. The aim of this study was to determine the spatial dispersion of soil microbial and free-living nematode communities in the open sites (between shrubs) in the upper (0-10 cm) soil layer at four altitudes on both slopes. The combination of relative soil moisture availability and temperature, known to be one of the main triggers for soil biota activity, was explained by slope orientation. The above-mentioned differences were found to significantly affect microbial biomass and CO2 evolution resulting in temporary stress, corresponding to higher values in metabolic quotient (qCO2) values. These differences may represent microbial investment in energy in order to overcome stress resulting from the microclimatic differences between the two slopes. Moreover, the degree of substrate limitation (primary production due to the differences in plant cover) of microbial activity was explained by the difference in microbial functional groups. The total abundance of soil free-living nematodes was found to be 2-fold higher on the SFS than on the NFS. Thirty-nine genera, including 12 bacteria-feeders, 5 fungi-feeders, 12 plant-parasites, and 10 omnivore-predators, were found at the study site, with 34 genera on the NFS and 29 on the SFS. The generic diversity of the bacteriafeeding nematodes was higher on the SFS than on the NFS. This study elucidates the importance of slope orientation and its effect on the structural levels of soil microbial and nematode communities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)364-375
Number of pages12
JournalFrontiers of Biology in China
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • "Evolution Canyon"
  • Community structure
  • Free-living nematode
  • Sampling location
  • Slope orientation


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