Island Conservation Threats to soil diversity mapped

Mapped: Potential Threats to Soil Diversity

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.

Island Conservation Map Soil Diversity

Map of soil biodiversity, published in the Global Soil Biodiversity Atlas by the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre, as part of the Global Soil Diversity initiative. Green=high soil diversity, orange=low soil diversity.

Conserving biodiversity hotspots, such as islands, therefore helps to promote healthy and diverse soils.

Island Conservation Vegetation on Robinson Crusoe

Vegetation on Robinson Crusoe Island. Credit: Island Conservation

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.

Island Conservation Soil Map

Map of potential threats to soil biodiversity, published in the Global Soil Biodiversity Atlas by the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre, as part of the Global Soil Diversity initiative. Red=high potential threat, green=low potential threat to soil diversity.

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.

Featured photo: Haleakea landscape. Island Conservation
Read the original article at Spatial Source

 

About Sara Kaiser

Sara received a BA in anthropology from UC Santa Cruz in 2014. As a freelance writer and editor, she seeks to produce and highlight stories that support ecological responsibility, body awareness, emotional intelligence, and creative action, and reveal the connections between them.

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