Crude oil spill destroys biodiversity and adversely impacts the physicochemical characteristics of the terrestrial and aquatic environments. The population characteristics of soil nematodes can serve as indicators of alterations in the terrestrial environment. To determine the effects of crude oil spillage on the soil nematode fauna status; a study was carried out at an impacted area in Gokana Local Government Area of Rivers State, Nigeria. 60 soil samples were randomly collected vertically (30 from the unpolluted sites and 30 from the polluted sites) at designated depths of 0-5 cm, 6-10 cm and 11-15 cm with the aid of a calibrated soil corer. Soil samples were taken to the laboratory for nematode extraction using the Baermann’s extraction technique and the sieving method. Physiochemical parameters of the soil samples were determined using standard laboratory techniques. A total of 340 nematodes (from 11 genera) were recovered in the soil samples comprising; 169 (49.7%) nematodes from polluted sites and 171 (50.3%) nematodes from the unpolluted sites. There was slight variability in nematode species diversity, richness and abundance in the polluted and unpolluted sites (p>0.05). Crude oil pollution influenced soil nematodes community composition while anthropological interferences such as farming influenced the successional trend of which was reflected in the maturity index values obtained from the study.
Key words: Crude oil, soil nematodes, biodiversity, polluted sites and maturity index.
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