Multipiece sand columns were used to study the dispersal and interspecific interactions at different depths among three nematode species with different foraging strategies. Steinernema carpocapsae Weiser, strain ‘NY001’, an ambusher nematode, Heterorhabditis bacteriophora Poinar, strain ‘Oswego’, a cruiser nematode, and S. feltiae Filipjev, strain ‘Valko’, an intermediate nematode were applied to multipiece sand columns in single-, two-, and three-species combinations 7 d before host introduction. The effect of interspecific interactions on nematode performance was estimated by comparing the percent host infected by a nematode species at specified depths when applied alone to the performance of the same nematode species when applied in combination with other nematode species. All three nematodes were capable of infecting some proportion of hosts down to the 32.5-cm depth when applied singly. In nematode combinations, interspecific competition occurred, but negative impacts of competition on nematode performance were not observed at all depths. S. carpocapsae ‘NY001’ was only affected negatively in the surface layer when combined in the three-species combination but not in the two-species combinations. S. feltiae ‘Valko’ was positively affected by the presence of S. carpocapsae ‘NY001’ at 26- and 32.5-cm depths in the two-species combination. In the presence of S. carpocapsae ‘NY001’ and S. carpocapsae ‘NY001’ S. feltiae ‘Valko’, the performance of H. bacteriophora ‘Oswego’ was positively affected at 32.5-cm depth. The results suggest spatial niche separation of nematodes with different foraging and dispersal strategies that may contribute to coexistence in the field.
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