Last changed: 05 February 2024

SOB4ES is a large project with 19 partners on a mission to make soil biodiversity visible to society and integrate it into EU policies. Within SOB4ES, we analyze soil biodiversity under various intensities of major land uses in pedoclimatic regions representative for the EU.

EU Soil Strategy's aim: By 2050, ensure all EU soils are healthy. To achieve this, integrating soil biodiversity into land management is crucial. Currently, soil biodiversity gets less attention in large monitoring efforts than higher plants and vertebrates. As a result, its contribution to ecosystem services is undervalued, unquantified, and lacks incorporation into EU policies. We’re here to redress this situation. The mission is to spotlight soil biodiversity's role in ecosystems, integrate it into EU policies, and make its value visible to society.

Linking aboveground and belowground biota

SLU is the most ‘northern’ partner in the consortium. In linking aboveground and belowground biota under different types and intensities of land use, we will sample sites for analyses of soil biodiversity in the nemoral and boreal pedoclimatic zones.

SLU will focus on the molecular characterisation of soil nematode and enchytraeids communities for lab analyses. The groups of soil biota play a key role in the cycling of soil carbon and nutrients. Some nematode taxa are also important plant parasites and, as such, important in regulating plant productivity. Nematodes and enchytraeids communities will be characterised using modern molecular methods.

Different aspects of key groups

In the analyses, we put emphasis on both taxonomic and functional aspects of these key groups of soil biota. For example, nematode taxa will be allocated to feeding groups (i.e., plant parasites, bacterial feeders, fungal feeders, predators, and omnivores) and we will use ‘coloniser-persister’ scores to calculate functional indices.

Together with other SOB4ES partners, these data will be used to determine whether top-down or bottom-up regulation controls food-web responses to different land use types and intensities, for example, by calculating trophic network size, connectance, and energy flow pathways.



Paul Kardol - Associate Professor
Department of Forest Ecology and Management
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences