Previous studies indicated that dispersal of S. carpocapsae may be enhanced in soil with earthworms. The objective of this research was to determine and compare the effects of earthworms on dispersal of other Steinernema spp. Vertical dispersal of Steinernema carpocapsae, S. feltiae, and S. glaseri was tested in soil columns in the presence and absence of earthworms (Lumbricus terrestris). Dispersal was evaluated by a bioassay and by direct extraction of nematodes from soil. Upward dispersal of S. carpocapsae and S. feltiae increased in the presence of earthworms, whereas upward dispersal of S. glaseri was not affected by earthworms. No significant differences were detected in downward dispersal of S. carpocapsae and S. feltiae in soil with earthworms compared to soil without earthworms. Downward dispersal of S. glaseri, however, was greater in soil without earthworms relative to soil with earthworms. In soil void of earthworms, dispersal of S. glaseri was greatest followed by dispersal of S. carpocapsae. The presence of earthworm burrows in soil did not influence nematode dispersal. Nematodes were recovered from the surface, interior, and casts of earthworms. Therefore, nematodes may have a phoretic association with earthworms.
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