Nematodes and tardigrades, and dung beetles, oh my!

May 20, 2016

A new Global Soil Biodiversity Atlas, which has its roots at Colorado State University will be officially unveiled May 25, 2016 in Nairobi, Kenya, at a symposium at the United Nations Environment Assembly.

Did you know that there are approximately 30,000 earthworm species in the soil around the world, yet only one-quarter have been identified and described by scientists? There are also as many as 5 million fungal species; researchers have only categorized 6 percent of them, at most. More than 1 million types of bacteria are in soil, yet less than 2 percent have been described in detail.

These facts and more are outlined -- with spectacular photos of the soil-focused creatures and numerous maps -- in the new atlas. More than 120 experts from 29 countries contributed photos and content.

Colorado State University's Diana Wall, University Distinguished Professor and director of the School of Global Environmental Sustainability, is among those who spearheaded the project through her role as scientific chair of the Global Soil Biodiversity Initiative. She will discuss how soil biodiversity contributes to sustainability during a panel discussion in Nairobi.

Wall said the atlas is a truly unique work. "For the first time, this atlas compiles our current global knowledge of the diversity below our feet from many, many disciplines about an under-appreciated natural resource -- soil and its biodiversity," she said.

What does she hope readers will gain from the new guide? "An understanding of our dependence on the amazing life beneath our feet," said Wall, who has been an advocate of soil animals for much of her career.

Elizabeth Bach, executive director of the GSBI and a soil microbial ecologist based at CSU, said the atlas will serve as a reference for scientists, policymakers, the general public and even researchers like herself. "The amount of biodiversity in soil is vast," she explained. "Even people whose expertise is in soil ecology can't know everything." They'll now have nearly 200 pages to thumb through and explore.

The atlas can also help researchers identify gaps and better focus research efforts. "If globally and nationally we're going to tackle the major challenges we face in the next century, soils are going to be part of the solution," Bach noted.

Starting May 23, the atlas will be available to download at no cost at the EU Bookshop or the Joint Research Centre European Soil Data Centre. It is also available for purchase for 25 Euros, or approximately $28.

The atlas will also be featured at launch events scheduled around the world through the end of the year, including at the Soil Science of America's annual meeting in Phoenix, Arizona, in November.

Colorado State University

Related Biodiversity Articles from Brightsurf:

Biodiversity hypothesis called into question
How can we explain the fact that no single species predominates?

Using the past to maintain future biodiversity
New research shows that safeguarding species and ecosystems and the benefits they provide for society against future climatic change requires effective solutions which can only be formulated from reliable forecasts.

Changes in farming urgent to rescue biodiversity
Humans depend on farming for their survival but this activity takes up more than one-third of the world's landmass and endangers 62% of all threatened species.

Predicting the biodiversity of rivers
Biodiversity and thus the state of river ecosystems can now be predicted by combining environmental DNA with hydrological methods, researchers from the University of Zurich and Eawag have found.

About the distribution of biodiversity on our planet
Large open-water fish predators such as tunas or sharks hunt for prey more intensively in the temperate zone than near the equator.

Bargain-hunting for biodiversity
The best bargains for conserving some of the world's most vulnerable salamanders and other vertebrate species can be found in Central Texas and the Appalachians, according to new conservation tools developed at the National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis (NIMBioS) at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

Researchers solve old biodiversity mystery
The underlying cause for why some regions are home to an extremely large number of animal species may be found in the evolutionary adaptations of species, and how they limit their dispersion to specific natural habitats.

Biodiversity offsetting is contentious -- here's an alternative
A new approach to compensate for the impact of development may be an effective alternative to biodiversity offsetting -- and help nations achieve international biodiversity targets.

Biodiversity yields financial returns
Farmers could increase their revenues by increasing biodiversity on their land.

Biodiversity and wind energy
The location and operation of wind energy plants are often in direct conflict with the legal protection of endangered species.

Read More: Biodiversity News and Biodiversity Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to