Impact of agricultural extensification on the relation between soil biodiversity and ecosystem services (soil structure maintenance, water regulation)

J.H. Faber, G. Pérès, G.A. de Groot, P.H. Krogh, M. Suhadol, S. Jaensch, A.K. Keith, O. Schmidt, W.S. Andriuzzi, A. Chabbi

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingAbstract


Introduction – There are increasing pressures on soil biodiversity and soil degradation remains a pertinent issue. In this context, one aim of the EcoFINDERS European project was to assess the impact of agricultural extensification, across a broad range of European land-use systems, on the relationships between soil biodiversity and ecosystem services. Special attention was given to the relation between i) soil biodiversity and aggregate stability, and ii) earthworms and soil macroporosity and water infiltration. Method - Data from seven long-term field studies (France, Germany, United-Kingdom, Slovenia, Denmark) on replicated plots of different land management scenarios (grassland, arable cropping, mixed crop-grassland, reduced or conventional tillage) were analysed. Earthworms were sampled using hand sorting and chemical extraction. Aggregate stability was measured using wet sieving method. Macropore distribution (i.e. numbers and diameter of earthworm burrows) was quantified at different horizontal layers. Infiltration rates were measured as the saturated hydraulic conductivity. Results – Data analysis demonstrated that earthworm community (species, ecological groups) was affected by land use and management practices. Aggregate stability in the top layer was significantly different among management treatments: higher under grassland than crop, and higher under reduced tillage than conventional tillage. Moreover, aggregate stability could significantly increase with earthworm biomass (anecic, endogeic). Burrow distribution was impacted by managements, likewise water infiltration capacity (permanent arable <mixed cropgrassland <permanent grassland; conventional <reduced or minimal tillage). Water infiltration capacity was related to functional diversity in earthworms, through the mediation of specific soil macropores by various species; pore systems and burrows that were connected to the soil surface contributed most efficiently to water infiltration rates. Conclusion – These observations indicate that less intensive managements result in increasing earthworm functional biodiversity, providing better soil structure and water infiltration. These results provide more quantitative insights that allow for ecohydrological modelling (forecasting) and economic valuation.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBook of Abstracts of the First Global Soil Biodiversity Conference
Publication statusPublished - 2014
EventFirst Global Soil Biodiversity Conference, Dijon, France -
Duration: 2 Dec 20145 Dec 2014


ConferenceFirst Global Soil Biodiversity Conference, Dijon, France


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