Projects featured here focus on broad global aspects of soil biodiversity with special interest in citizen science and outreach.
Formed in 2017, The South American Mycorrhizal Research Network is an horizontal scientific community directed towards the progress of mycorrhizal applications, research and public outreach in South America. Imitating mycorrhizal networks, which can occupy hundreds of hectares, hopefully this network will cover the entire South American continent and extend abroad. The main activities of this network include: events organization (symposiums, workshops and so on), diffusion of news and opportunities on mycorrhizal research, and connect local research groups with the hopes of stablishing join research at the regional scale.
Universal taxonomic framework and integrated reference gene databases for Eukaryotic biology, ecology, and evolution, including soil eukaryotes.
African Soil Microbiology Project
The African Soil Microbiology Project was launched in October 2016 at the University of Pretoria. It brings together sceintists from seven sub-Saharan African countries to undertake a broad-scale survey of soil microbiology across the entire African continent, using the latest next-generation DNA sequencing and computational technologies. The project is funded by USAID. For more information, contact project director Prof. Don Cowan.
Landpotential.org is a global partnership committed to developing and supporting the adoption of freely available technology and tools for sustainable land use management, monitoring, and connecting people across the globe. LandPKS aims to serve as the primary access and development point for free, simple to use, and locally appropriate technologies and knowledge needed for making sustainable land management decisions. The app is available for download at Google Play and the Apple App Store.
On 23-25 July 2012, the GSBI, in collaboration with the Wall Lab of Colorado State University, the Fierer Lab of the University of Colorado, Boulder, the Bradford Lab of Yale and the American Museum of Natural History explored the soil biodiversity of Central Park, New York, NY. The group collected over 600 soil samples to map the soil biodiversity of the park. Ongoing processing of samples will be made public soon after completion.
Soils host a huge biodiversity (microbes and fauna) of which our understanding remains very limited. Our lack of knowledge is related to: the small size of the soil borne organisms; their immense diversity; the difficulty in isolating them; and the great heterogeneity of their habitats across different scales. However, recent progress in the molecular characterization of soil biodiversity offers the exciting prospect of exploring its complexity and better understanding its functioning.
As stated, "The EcoFINDERS (Ecological Function and Biodiversity Indicators in European Soils) project will result in:
- at the scientific level, increasing our knowledge of soil biodiversity and its role in ecosystem services across different soils, climate types and land uses
- at the technological level, the standardization of methods and operating procedures for characterizing soil biodiversity and functioning, and the development of bioindicators
- at the economic level, the assessment of the added value brought by cost-effective bioindicators, and of cost effectiveness of alternative ecosystem service maintenance policies."
This project ran and was active from January 1,2011 to December 31st, 2014.
Developed by a team of researchers from the University of Utrecht, The Netherlands Institute of Ecology and the University of Iceland, the Tea Bag Index (TBI) project examines decomposition rates around the world. The project is low cost and utilizes citizen science to expand its implementation. Learn more, including how to participate, here: http://www.teatime4science.org/
The University of Helsinki has recently initated a study as part of GLUSEEN, or the Global Urban Soil Ecological Education Network. The study will look into the effects that urban environmental changes have on decomposition and soil community structure.
Left: Teabag deployment in Baltimore. Right: Preparing teabags for decomposition study.
At the fifth International Oligochaeta Taxonomy Meeting (IOTM) in 2011, Robert J. Blakemore presented a call for the Census of Soil Invertebrates (COSI). The consensus will provide a central registry for soil fauna. Preliminary attempts to provide a soil fauna matrix were presented in 2007 and a compellation resource on earthworms is freely available online.
Life Under Your Feet provides soil ecology information, eduation materials and live reseach data. They are currently collecting data from a network of wireless sensors measuring the environmental conditions in the soil.
Currently in beta mode avaiable from Diversitas, Map of Life allows users to examine global biodiversity across all scales in all ecoystems.
Grupo Faro has started a new initiative to study the soil biodiversity of the Wamani Amazon Rainforest in Ecuador. The group will teach the Wamani people how to sample soil invertebrates and monitor the population variations. This collaboration will occur over the span of a year and hopefully lead to a greater understanding of the region's soil biota.
Left: The people of Wmani measuring pH and moisture in the soil. Right: Parabiologists attending a training session with Grupo Faro biologist, Gabriela Erazo.