Towards an integrative understanding of soil biodiversity

Madhav P. Thakur*, Helen R.P. Phillips, Ulrich Brose, Franciska T. De Vries, Patrick Lavelle, Michel Loreau, Jerome Mathieu, Christian Mulder, Wim H. Van der Putten, Matthias C. Rillig, David A. Wardle, Elizabeth M. Bach, Marie L.C. Bartz, Joanne M. Bennett, Maria J.I. Briones, George Brown, Thibaud Decaëns, Nico Eisenhauer, Olga Ferlian, Carlos António GuerraBirgitta König-Ries, Alberto Orgiazzi, Kelly S. Ramirez, David J. Russell, Michiel Rutgers, Diana H. Wall, Erin K. Cameron

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Soil is one of the most biodiverse terrestrial habitats. Yet, we lack an integrative conceptual framework for understanding the patterns and mechanisms driving soil biodiversity. One of the underlying reasons for our poor understanding of soil biodiversity patterns relates to whether key biodiversity theories (historically developed for aboveground and aquatic organisms) are applicable to patterns of soil biodiversity. Here, we present a systematic literature review to investigate whether and how key biodiversity theories (species–energy relationship, theory of island biogeography, metacommunity theory, niche theory and neutral theory) can explain observed patterns of soil biodiversity. We then discuss two spatial compartments nested within soil at which biodiversity theories can be applied to acknowledge the scale-dependent nature of soil biodiversity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)350-364
JournalBiological Reviews
Issue number2
Early online date15 Nov 2019
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2020


  • alpha diversity
  • beta diversity
  • biodiversity theory
  • metacommunity theory
  • neutral theory
  • niche theory
  • spatial scale
  • species–energy relationship
  • theory of island biogeography

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Towards an integrative understanding of soil biodiversity'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this