Priorities for research in soil ecology
Eisenhauer, Nico ; Antunes, Pedro M. ; Bennett, Alison E. ; Birkhofer, Klaus ; Bissett, Andrew ; Bowker, Matthew A. ; Caruso, Tancredi ; Chen, Baodong ; Coleman, David C. ; Boer, Wietse de; Ruiter, Peter de; DeLuca, Thomas H. ; Frati, Francesco ; Griffiths, Bryan S. ; Hart, Miranda M. ; Hättenschwiler, Stephan ; Haimi, Jari ; Heethoff, Michael ; Kaneko, Nobuhiro ; Kelly, Laura C. ; Leinaas, Hans Petter ; Lindo, Zoë ; Macdonald, Catriona ; Rillig, Matthias C. ; Ruess, Liliane ; Scheu, Stefan ; Schmidt, Olaf ; Seastedt, Timothy R. ; Straalen, Nico M. van; Tiunov, Alexei V. ; Zimmer, Martin ; Powell, Jeff R. - \ 2017
Pedobiologia 63 (2017). - ISSN 0031-4056 - p. 1 - 7.
Aboveground-belowground interactions - Biodiversity–ecosystem functioning - Biogeography - Chemical ecology - Climate change - Ecosystem services - Global change - Microbial ecology - Novel environments - Plant-microbe interactions - Soil biodiversity - Soil food web - Soil management - Soil processes
The ecological interactions that occur in and with soil are of consequence in many ecosystems on the planet. These interactions provide numerous essential ecosystem services, and the sustainable management of soils has attracted increasing scientific and public attention. Although soil ecology emerged as an independent field of research many decades ago, and we have gained important insights into the functioning of soils, there still are fundamental aspects that need to be better understood to ensure that the ecosystem services that soils provide are not lost and that soils can be used in a sustainable way. In this perspectives paper, we highlight some of the major knowledge gaps that should be prioritized in soil ecological research. These research priorities were compiled based on an online survey of 32 editors of Pedobiologia – Journal of Soil Ecology. These editors work at universities and research centers in Europe, North America, Asia, and Australia. The questions were categorized into four themes: (1) soil biodiversity and biogeography, (2) interactions and the functioning of ecosystems, (3) global change and soil management, and (4) new directions. The respondents identified priorities that may be achievable in the near future, as well as several that are currently achievable but remain open. While some of the identified barriers to progress were technological in nature, many respondents cited a need for substantial leadership and goodwill among members of the soil ecology research community, including the need for multi-institutional partnerships, and had substantial concerns regarding the loss of taxonomic expertise.
Relationships at the aboveground-belowground interface: plants, soil biota and soil processes
Porazinska, D.L. ; Bardgett, R.D. ; Postma-Blaauw, M.B. ; Hunt, H.W. ; Parsons, A.N. ; Seastedt, T.R. ; Wall, D.M. - \ 2003
Ecological Monographs 73 (2003)3. - ISSN 0012-9615 - p. 377 - 395.
experimental grassland ecosystems - tallgrass prairie - terrestrial ecosystems - species-diversity - microbial biomass - nitrogen - biodiversity - decomposition - productivity - communities
Interactions at the aboveground-below ground interface provide important feedbacks that regulate ecosystem processes. Organisms within soil food webs are involved in processes of decomposition and nutrient mineralization, and their abundance and activity have been linked to plant ecophysiological traits such as species identity and the quality and quantity of plant tissue. We tested aboveground-below ground diversity relationships in a naturally developed plant community of native tallgrass prairie by taking soil samples from beneath naturally established grass tillers of chosen characteristics (e.g., homogeneous vs. heterogeneous plant combinations or C-4 vs. C-3 photosynthetic pathway) without imposing any disturbances to existing plant-soil relationships. The goal of this study was to elucidate the consequences, for soil microbiota (microflora phospholipid fatty acids, protozoa, and nematode functional groups) and for C and N mineralization, of plant community properties such as species richness, resource quality, resource heterogeneity, species identity, and presence of exotics. None of the biotic or abiotic soil variables was related to plant resource heterogeneity. Protozoa were not responsive to any of the plant community traits. Some bacterial and nematode groups were affected by plant characteristics specific to a particular plant species, but no uniform pattern emerged. Invasive and native plants generally were similar with respect to soil variables tested in this study. The lack of clear responses of soil variables to plant community traits indicates that idiosyncratic effects dominate both at the plant and soil biotic level and that generalized plant and soil diversity effects are hard to predict.