Energy flux across multitrophic levels drives ecosystem multifunctionality: Evidence from nematode food webs

Bingbing Wan, Ting Liu, Xin Gong, Yu Zhang, Chongjun Li, Xiaoyun Chen*, Feng Hu, Bryan S. Griffiths, Manqiang Liu

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)


Energy flux in food webs, i.e., energy consumption by different trophic groups and describing their energetic structure, has been proposed as a powerful tool to understand the relationships between biodiversity and multiple ecosystem functions (ecosystem multifunctionality). Here we examined how different fertilization regimes affected the energy flux across multitrophic levels of soil nematodes in the paddy rice and upland maize fields. We considered 13 ecosystem functions of four ecological processes related to plant productivity, nutrient cycling processes and drivers, and functional stability, which are central to energy and nutrient flow across trophic levels. To confirm whether multitrophic flux would underpin the relationships between biodiversity and multifunctionality, we compared energy flux with other approaches including taxonomic diversity, functional diversity and community composition. Results showed that organic fertilizer supported 33–340% greater multitrophic energy flux of soil nematode community and enhanced 41–264% of ecosystem multifunctionality in both fields compared with mineral fertilizer treatments. Organic fertilization enhanced ecosystem multifunctionality by favoring energy flux in multitrophic levels of soil nematodes, while fertilization-mediated changes in other facets of biodiversity were less related to multifunctionality. Our study provides empirical evidence that energy flux within food webs can be used to understand the impacts of environmental change drivers on ecosystem multifunctionality.
Original languageEnglish
Article number108656
Number of pages9
JournalSoil Biology and Biochemistry
Early online date6 Apr 2022
Publication statusPrint publication - Jun 2022


  • energy flux
  • Nematode
  • Food web
  • ecosystem multifunctionality
  • multitrophic
  • Multiple functions
  • Soil biodiversity
  • Functional traits
  • Community assemblage
  • Fertilization regime


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