Biodiversa+ aims to promote and support transnational biodiversity monitoring, by building a transnational network of harmonised biodiversity monitoring schemes on specific priority topics. Soil biodiversity is one of them.
Soil is one of the most diverse and complex ecosystems on Earth, hosting a multitude of organisms that perform essential functions for life. However, long-term trends in changes related to human activities and global change remain poorly understood. To address this knowledge gap, in January 2023, Biodiversa+ launched a two-year pilot study on soil biodiversity monitoring in protected, near-natural forests across Europe.
The pilot study, coordinated by the Province of Bolzano through Eurac Research (Italy), involves partners from nine countries: Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Portugal (Azores), Slovakia, and Turkey. Sweden will join in 2024.
It aims to test the feasibility and applicability of a harmonised protocol for sampling and analysing soil samples for their properties, microbial and invertebrate diversity, using both traditional and molecular methods. The pilot also aims to evaluate the administrative and logistical challenges and solutions for implementing a transnational monitoring scheme, as well as the scientific and policy relevance of the results.
The first year report describes the experimental design, the protocols, the field and lab work, the challenges encountered and the possible solutions, and the first results from the spring sampling. It provides valuable insights and recommendations for a future transnational monitoring scheme on soil biodiversity, which is urgently needed to support the conservation and restoration of this vital resource!