Trends in Soil Biodiversity Research and Applications

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstract


Soil ecology research has made enormous progress during the past ten or twenty years by revealing how soil biota contribute to plant community dynamics and the regulation of aboveground biodiversity. However, the role of soil biodiversity in these interactions has only rarely been examined. Unlike in plant ecology, where plant species, functional groups, or trait diversity may be varied relatively easy, such studies in soil have been constrained by the myriad of species, functional groups and traits present below ground. Still, much progress has been made by examining consequences of global change scenarios of changes in land use, climate, and introduced exotic plant species. These studies initially have been hampered by adequate possibilities to quantify and qualify belowground communities, but recent developments in molecular identification methods are facilitating these approaches enormously. Originally, in soil food web studies soil biodiversity has been organized into feeding guilds, which may be considered as a predecessor of the functional group, or trait approach in aboveground ecology. Currently, novel developments take place in network approaches, which may provide novel insights into transient states and key groups or interactions that may prevent, or promote transitions in soil community composition. Another novel development is to consider the role of soil biodiversity in eco-evolutionary dynamics, for example by studying the role of soil biota in controlling invasive exotic plant species. These are some major new trends in soil biodiversity research that may have important potential for applications, for example in enhancing sustainability of agriculture. Awareness is growing how soil communities can be made nutrient use efficient and resilient against extreme events and other environmental disturbances. However, new fundamental insights are needed in order to design soil systems for future agriculture that will yield high amounts of food, feed, and biomass from ecosystems with highly nutrient use efficient and resilient properties. Therefore, we may capitalize on recent advances in soil ecology research in order to further understand the organization and functioning of belowground biodiversity and use this knowledge for enhancing sustainability of life in a rapidly changing world.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2014
EventThe First GSBI Conference- Assessing Soil Biodiversity and its Role for Ecosystem Services, Dijon, France -
Duration: 2 Dec 20145 Dec 2014


ConferenceThe First GSBI Conference- Assessing Soil Biodiversity and its Role for Ecosystem Services, Dijon, France


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