By Dr. Charlene Janion-Scheepers, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Monash University, Australia
This is the first in a three-part blog series highlighting the rich soil biodiversity found in South Africa.
Soils are integral to agricultural productivity, biodiversity and the maintenance of ecosystem services. However, soil ecosystem research depends on foundational biological knowledge that is often missing. In a recent review published in Pedobiologia, we review the current knowledge on the soil biota of South Africa. The paper outlines the literature and sampling methods used to assess soil biota, the available taxonomic expertise and depository of main collections within South Africa, the availability of identification guides and online resources, and the status and distribution of described species.
This review was the result of two workshops held by the Soil Ecosystem Research Group in South Africa (SERG). We are a soil biodiversity research group that provides a platform for linking and promoting research on soil organisms. One of the first priorities identified by SERG was the need to collate and mobilise data and collections such that we can consolidate and compare the state of knowledge of each group. We also identified that foundational work on soil organisms is needed to facilitate research on soil health, as was outlined in our paper The unknown world: Understanding soil health in South Africa.
In our next blog What lies beneath: South Africa’s megadiversity of soil biota (part II) we will discuss the rich soil biodiversity found in South Africa.
The first Soil Health Workshop held at the XVII Entomological Society of Southern Africa Congress in Bloemfontein, 6 July 2011.
Second workshop of the Soil Ecosystem Research Group held at the XVIII Entomological Society of Southern Africa Congress, 2 July 2013, North West University, Potchefstroom.