Substantial gaps in soil biodiversity data worldwide
By Erin Cameron (scientist at University of Helsinki/iDiv) and Nico Eisenhauer (scientist at iDiv/UL):
Leipzig/Helsinki. Significant data gaps limit our understanding of the distribution of soil biodiversity worldwide. Together with an international team of researchers, with many contributors from iDiv, we mapped the study sites from three recent global datasets on soil organisms, including bacteria, fungi, and soil animals such as earthworms or beetles. We found that data on soil biodiversity is lacking from large regions of the world, especially across most of Russia and Canada, much of central Asia and central Africa, and many tropical regions. Our findings were recently published in the journal Nature Ecology & Evolution. Filling these data gaps is critical due to the high proportion of terrestrial biodiversity that exists in soil and its role in supporting key ecosystem services.
The lack of global datasets on soil biodiversity has likely contributed to the neglect of soil biodiversity in many global biodiversity assessments, policies, and macroecological analyses. While soil ecologists are increasingly conducting large-scale assessments and developing additional databases, increased coordination of sampling efforts and greater consensus on methodological approaches is needed to fill these data gaps and compile datasets on other soil organisms such as mites. The global distribution of biodiversity and the main drivers of changes in biodiversity are central to many research activities at iDiv. This is for example true for our working group sWORM within sDiv, iDiv’s synthesis centre, that is developing a global soil biodiversity database. Greater cooperation with policymakers will also be essential for improving the inclusion of soil biodiversity in global policies.
Original publication (iDiv researchers in bold):
Cameron, E. K., Martins, I. S., Lavelle, P., Mathieu, J., Tedersoo, L., Gottschall, F., Guerra, C. A., Hines, J., Patoine, J., Siebert, J., Winter, M., Cesarz, S., Delgado-Baquerizo, M., Ferlian, O., Fierer, N., Kreft, H., Lovejoy, T. E., Montanarella, L., Orgiazzi, A., Pereira, H. M., Phillips, H. R. P., Settele, J., Wall, D. H., Eisenhauer, N. 2018. Global gaps in soil biodiversity data. Nature Ecology & Evolution https://doi.org/10.1038/s41559-018-0573-8
sDiv working group sWORM:
Dr Erin Cameron
Academy of Finland postdoctoral researcher
Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences, University of Helsinki
Prof Nico Eisenhauer
Head of Research Group Experimental Interaction Ecology
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig