Managing and Understanding Soil Biology and Biodiversity

Soils comprise roughly 25% of the global biodiversity, yet most soil organisms and their effects on multiple soil functions remain poorly understood. Our research examines soil biological communities and how soil management influences the diversity, activity and abundance of soil organisms. Additionally, we study the impacts of soil organisms on a range of ecosystem functions, so that management practices can be tailored to best leverage the activity of beneficial soil organisms. While we consider multiple taxonomic levels (from microbes, to nematodes, to macrofauna), much of our research focuses on soil macrofauna communities, and especially soil ecosystem engineers (e.g., earthworms, ants, termites) that strongly influence soil structure and a range of associated soil properties.

Related Websites

Global Soil Biodiversity

Relevant Publications

Olayemi, O.P., J.P. Schneekloth, M.D. Wallenstein, P. Trivedi, F. J. Calderón and S. J. Fonte (2022) Soil macrofauna and microbial communities respond in similar ways to management drivers in an irrigated maize system of Colorado (USA). Applied Soil Ecology 178: 104562.

Lavelle, P., et al. (2022) Soil macroinvertebrate communities. A worldwide assessment. Global Ecology and Biogeography 31: 1261–1276.

Kelly, C., P. Byrne, M. Haddix, M.F. Cotrufo, M. Wallenstein, C. Kallenbach, M. Schipanski, and S.J Fonte (2022) Divergent belowground carbon patterns of winter wheat shape rhizosphere microbial communities and nitrogen cycling activities Soil Biology and Biochemistry 165: 108518.

Wyckhuys, K. H. Nguyen, and S.J. Fonte (2021) Artefactual depiction of predator-prey trophic linkages in global soils. Scientific Reports 11: 23861.

Kelly, C., S.J. Fonte, A. Shrestha, K.M. Daane, and J.P. Mitchell (2021) Winter cover crops and no-till promote soil macrofauna communities in irrigated, Mediterranean cropland of California. Applied Soil Ecology 166: 104068.

Ankrom, K.E., A.L.C. Franco, L. S.J. Fonte, A. Gherardi, C.M. de Tomasel, W.S. Andriuzzi, E.A. Shaw, E.M. O.E. Sala, and D.H. Wall (2020) Ecto- and endoparasitic nematodes respond differently across sites to changes in precipitation. Oecologia 193: 761-771.

Fonte, S.J., C. Botero, D.C. Quintero, P. Lavelle, and C. van Kessel (2019) Earthworms regulate plant productivity and efficacy of soil fertility amendments in acid soils of the Colombian Llanos. Soil Biology and Biochemistry 129:136-143.

Phillips, H.R.P., et al. (2019) Global distribution of earthworm diversity. Science 366: 480–485.