sWORM - A global soil biodiversity database and its application to data synthesis and theory development

2nd date: 13.-16.11.2017

PIs: Erin Cameron; Nico Eisenhauer

associated postdoc: Helen Phillips

Biodiversity patterns of soil biota and the factors which drive these patterns remain poorly understood, particularly at broad scales. Yet, soils harbour the greatest biodiversity on earth per unit area and support a range of ecosystem functions, while benefiting humans worldwide. Consequently, quantitative synthesis to understand and predict global biodiversity patterns of soil organisms, as well as the effects of anthropogenic disturbances on this biodiversity, is critical. However, synthesis and theory development in soil ecological research is currently limited by the availability of soil biodiversity data. We propose a working group that will: 1) work to implement a global soil biodiversity database by building upon the framework developed at the sOILDIV workshop previously held at iDiv, 2) examine how biodiversity theories may apply to soil biodiversity at global scales; 3) conduct initial global biogeographic analyses with the database using earthworms as a model group. Earthworms are ecosystem engineers and key detritivores in many terrestrial ecosystems. Furthermore, they are relatively well-studied globally as compared to other soil taxa and are invading many ecosystems worldwide, making them an ideal test group to start with in developing a soil biodiversity database, to examine belowground invasions, and to study biogeographical patterns and underlying drivers. The main outputs from the working group will be several articles examining earthworm biogeography and biodiversity theories in a belowground context. Further, we will move forward with the implementation of a global soil biodiversity database and develop a proposal to support further development and maintenance.


Elizabeth Bach (Colorado State University), Marie Bartz (Universidade Positivo), Maria JI Briones (Universidad de Vigo), George Brown (Embrapa Forestry), Erin Cameron (University of Helsinki), Franciska de Vries (University of Manchester), Nico Eisenhauer (iDiv), Olga Ferlian (iDiv), Birgitta König-Ries (Jena University), Jerome Mathieu (Université Pierre et Marie Curie), Christian Mulder (RIVM), Alberto Orgiazzi (Joint Research Centre Ispra), Helen Phillips (iDiv), Matthias Rillig (Free University Berlin), David Russell (Senckenberg Museum of Natural History), Madhav Thakur (iDiv), Diana Harrison Wall (Colorado State University)

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