Biodiv Sci ›› 2022, Vol. 30 ›› Issue (12): 22208.  DOI: 10.17520/biods.2022208

Special Issue: 土壤生物与土壤健康

• Original Papers • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Effects of precipitation regime on the structure of soil micro-food web in the grassland of northern China

Yushan Xiao1, Changrao Yang1, Guo Zheng1, Pengfeng Wu1, Shixiu Zhang2, Shuyan Cui1,*()   

  1. 1. College of Life Science, Shenyang Normal University, Shenyang 110034
    2. Key Laboratory of Mollisols Agroecology, Northeast Institute of Geography and Agroecology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Changchun 130012
  • Received:2022-04-21 Accepted:2022-07-14 Online:2022-12-20 Published:2022-08-08
  • Contact: *E-mail:


Aims: Due to global climate change, precipitation regimes in arid and semi-arid regions are exhibiting a trend of increase in rainfall intensity with a reduction in frequency. These changes in precipitation patterns can affect belowground communities and ecosystem functions. However, previous studies mainly focused on the effects of precipitation amounts on soil micro-food web, the changes of precipitation intensity and frequency on soil micro-food web were relatively few, especially in ecosystem function.
Methods: We performed a field experiment initiated in 2012 to examine the effects of changes in the precipitation regime (i.e. precipitation intensity: 2 mm, 5 mm, 10 mm, 20 mm, and 40 mm). Microbial communities were determined by phospholipid fatty acid (PLFA) and high throughput sequencing (16S and ITS). The composition and structure of the nematode community was determined by morphological identification.
Results: Different precipitation intensities significantly affected soil fungal PLFA, which was highest under the 20 mm treatment. Furthermore, fungal diversity had different responses to precipitation intensity treatment. The abundance of nematodes in each trophic group responded differently to precipitation intensity, and the abundance of bacterivores increased monotonically with the increase in precipitation intensity (P = 0.012). The abundance of fungivores (P < 0.001) and plant parasites (P = 0.046) were both significantly higher in medium (10 mm), high (20 mm) and extrem precipitation intensities (40 mm) than in low precipitation intensities (2 mm and 5 mm). Different precipitation intensities significantly affected soil nematode diversity. All the diversity indices were the highest under medium and high-intensity precipitation (10 mm or 20 mm). The soil nematode community composition was similar between moderate precipitation intensity (10 mm) and extreme precipitation intensity (40 mm). Changes in precipitation patterns increased soil water content, fungal PLFA, and fungivore diversity, thus improving ecosystem multifunction.
Conclusion: High precipitation intensity promoted fungal PLFA in the northern temperate steppe, while moderate precipitation intensity promoted microbial diversity. The abundance of nematodes increased with precipitation intensity, and the diversity of nematodes was highest under moderate and high precipitation intensity. The changes in soil micro-food web further affected ecosystem multifunction, mainly through increasing fungal biomass, abundance of fungivores nematodes, and nematode diversity.

Key words: precipitation intensity, precipitation frequency, soil microbial community, soil nematode community, ecosystem multifunctionality