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Researchers Jorge Durán, from the Center for Functional Ecology of the Faculty of Science and Technology of the University of Coimbra (FCTUC), and Manuel Delgado-Baquerizo, from Universidad Pablo de Olavide (Seville, Spain), evaluated, for the first time, how and why the spatial variability of soil biodiversity changes in terrestrial ecosystems on a global scale.
Spatial variability, that is, the uneven distribution of soil properties, plays an essential role in controlling the main characteristics and services of ecosystems, such as plant performance, ecosystem productivity, trophic interactions, or soil nutrient cycling.
The results of this study, published in the scientific journal Scientific Reports, of the Nature group, are essential “to improve our ability to understand and predict the complex effects of climate change on soil biodiversity, as well as to design early detection and mitigation measures more effective”, says Jorge Durán.
“We know that the spatial variability of soil properties and functions is controlled by the interaction of various biological, chemical and physical attributes. However, little is known about the factors that control the spatial variability of underground organisms. This is surprising, however, because soil biodiversity is an essential factor in multiple ecosystem functions. Although research in the last decade has been able to identify the most important environmental factors that control the biodiversity of soil organisms, an aspect that has been overlooked in these studies is their spatial variability”, explains the researcher from the FCTUC Center for Functional Ecology.
This study aimed precisely to fill these gaps in knowledge. The researchers analyzed a large database, of soil and vegetation, from 87 different locations on all continents (except Antarctica), covering a wide range of climatic conditions, types of vegetation, ages, and soil origins.