- Forests are the largest ecosystem type in Europe (210 million ha), but they remained fairly marginal in past research on how soil biodiversity affects ecosystem functioning.
- This hinders the assessment of how forest biodiversity loss affects soil processes and their resistance and resilience to climate change.
- Because soil biodiversity is largely ignored, the historical, educational, and economical values of soil biodiversity are likely misjudged by forest managers and the larger public.
- Understanding links between tree diversity and soil biodiversity would facilitate predictions of soil biodiversity and ecosystem functioning under climate change and appropriate decision-making.
SoilForEUROPE is a European project (BiodivERsA) funded by the Agence Nationale de la Recherche (ANR, France), the Belgian Science Policy Office (BELSPO, Belgium), the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, Germany), the Research Foundation of Flanders (FWO, Belgium), and the Swedish Research Council (FORMAS, Sweden). It aims to (1) link soil biodiversity with tree species richness across European forests, (2) determine the role of biodiversity in ecosystem resistance and resilience to drought, and (3) assess the socio-economic value of soil biodiversity and its impact on decision-making.
This project utilizes an already existing network of more than two hundred forest plots ranging from monospecific to multispecies forests in six typical and climatically different European forest types that were established as forest exploratories in the FunDivEUROPE project.
To complement the network of comparative plots in mature forests, we also study two European sites from the global network of tree diversity experiments (TreeDivNet), FORBIO and ORPHEE, that additionally manipulate climatic variables. We also use the CNRS European Ecotron in Montpellier, a world leading controlled environment facility for ecosystem research, to study the interactive effects of soil biodiversity and drought on ecosystem functioning.
- Biodiversity – Explore which plant traits, both aboveground and belowground, predict abundance, diversity, and community composition of soil organisms.
- Function – Develop a predictive framework for how soil biodiversity affects the functioning of forest ecosystems.
- Climate change – Investigate the impact of soil biodiversity on ecosystem resistance and resilience to climate change.
- Socioeconomic impact – Evaluate the socioeconimic impact of changes in soil biodiversity for the public, managers, and stakeholders.