Soil Food Webs

Soil is the second largest carbon pool on Earth and sustain over 50% of the world’s biodiversity. The dynamics of carbon (organic matter) and biodiversity in soils are interconnected and most biological processes in soils are underpinned by trophic interactions among soil animals, microorganisms and plants.

In our section, we specifically focus on these trophic interactions – soil food webs – and aim for a holistic understanding of soil biodiversity and functioning. This section conceptually joins work done across other sections, including soil microfauna (nematodes), mesofauna (springtails and mites), and macrofauna (myriapods and oligochaetes). As our focus collections, we have communities of soil animals, preserving information not only on organisms, but also on their co-occurrence.

Our main objectives are to (1) describe how soil food webs are linked to ecosystem-level functions, and (2) to understand how main human-controlled factors affect soil food web organization. We use a range of instrumental methods, e.g. stable isotope approaches, and develop novel tools, such as image analysis. Our current projects focus on the role of soil animals in the carbon cycle of forests and on the macroecology of soil animal communities (e.g. Soil BON Foodweb