Functional relevance of soil fauna in agroecosystems
Various key stone species of soil fauna are often called ecosystem engineers and others are called decomposers. Such terms emphasise their functional importance in the soil environment. Depending on behaviour and adaptations, soil fauna delivers essential ecosystem services in soils under land use.
Various groups of soil fauna generate soil structure which has a controlling function on soil processes like transport processes. Or they fulfil key functions in the network of transformation and turnover of organic matter. Members of the soil fauna are also important within the C and N cycles. Their role may be directly as primary or secondary decomposers like earthworm species or they operate more indirectly as catalysts of microbial activity like many collembolan species. Nematodes for instance control many knots of soil food-webs due to highly specialised species on certain food sources. Our aim is to identify, to quantify and to assess ecosystem services delivered by soil fauna with respect to different agricultural management measures under different land use systems.
We disseminate our scientific output to the science community, to farmers and advisors as well as policy makers and the wider public.
Field studies and additional laboratory experiments has been conducted covering the following subjects: genesis, structure and function of biogenic macropore systems, physicochemical properties of cast aggregates, dynamic of organic matter in the food-web, mechanisms of ecotoxicological effects, soil fauna interactions with microorganisms and the soil matrix.
Our results on the functional relevance of soil fauna are published in various journals, book chapters and brochures covering the following subjects: soil structure, soil-borne pathogens, harmful substances, decomposition of crop residues, soil tillage, soil compaction, soil protection. In the long-term, arable soils may fulfil their productivity only in case their function as living space is maintained and improved.
Permanent task 8.2003 - 12.2020
Project status: ongoing