Research Highlight: Li, X., Liu, T., Li, H., Geisen, S., Hu, F., & Liu, M. (2022). Management effects on soil nematode abundance differ among functional groups and land-use types at a global scale. Journal of Animal Ecology, https://doi.org/10.1111/1365-2656.13744. Despite the well-documented decline of aboveground species abundances as a result of land-use intensification, there has been little attention on the effects of human activities on belowground species abundances. Li et al. analyse nematode data, the most abundant animal on the planet, from across the globe to determine whether their abundances vary between managed and unmanaged habitats. The authors show that, unlike aboveground biodiversity, nematode abundance is higher in managed than unmanaged primary and secondary habitats. Furthermore, responses to land management vary between trophic groups and they do not appear to follow the general hypothesis that higher trophic levels are more vulnerable to human activity than those further down the food chain, except in urban habitats. Finally, Li et al. show that the relationships between environmental predictors and species abundance were weakened (and sometimes reversed) in managed habitats. Together, their results reveal how land-use management is impacting the trophic composition of soil nematode communities and their relationships with the environment, which has implications for ecosystem functioning.

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