Scientists have produced a first-of-its-kind global map of potential threats to soil diversity.
When we consider variety in nature, we tend to immediately think of animals and plants. However, diversity within the soil of a terrestrial ecosystem is also critically important.
Soil is by far the most biologically diverse part of the earth and includes earthworms, spiders, ants, beetles, collembolans, mites, nematodes, fungi, bacteria and other organisms.
Research indicates that biodiversity of a region and soil health go hand in hand. Furthermore, biodiversity above the ground correlates with biodiversity within the ground.
Conserving biodiversity hotspots, such as islands, therefore helps to promote healthy and diverse soils.
Soil diversity, like above-ground biodiversity, can be threatened. The Global Soil Biodiversity Atlas has created a map that accounts for the following threats to soil diversity: loss of aboveground biodiversity, plant species loss, pollution and nutrient overloading, agricultural use, cropland percentage cover, overgrazing, fire risk, soil erosion, desertification vulnerability, and the effects of climate change on aridity. Anthropogenic (human) factors correlate with higher threats to soil biodiversity.
This map represents the first preliminary assessment of the risk to soil diversity on a global scale.
The map will help conservationists better understand what is at stake below the ground, and hopefully inspires action to protect soil diversity around the world.
Protecting biodiversity means looking beyond the Earth’s surface and investing in the small yet important forms of life that help uphold nature’s diverse ecosystems.
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