A lifetime ambition: Barcoding UK Collembola

This blog post is not a write-up of work done so much as it is a wish list of work to do!  Here Peter Shaw and Carly Benefer describe the background to, and early stages of a long-term project to answer an apparently simple question: “What species of Collembola occur in Britain?” by using molecular barcodes. 


Plant-Soil-Ecosystems Group Launches Journal Club

The BES Plant-Soil-Ecosystems group has launched an online journal club. As explained on the site, they plan to post on a new paper approximately every two weeks, and hope there will be plenty of discussion via the comments and on twitter. Visit the About page for more details.



A wave of alien invaders marches unseen, northwards across Britain!

The UK is experiencing a wave of colonisation events by non-native species, some of which are being largely overlooked.  At least 5 non-native species of springtail are now widespread in the UK and apparently moving northward: at least three of these seem not to have been scientifically described despite being commonly found in gardens.


Everything eats everyone?

One of the most important components of the soil is the biology within it; this abundant and diverse group is the driver of nutrient cycling, decomposition, bioturbation and pedogenesis (Figure 1) within soil ecosystems.  However due to the opacity of the soil, small size of the organisms involved and the diversity of species, understanding the interactions that are occurring is very difficult. Today Felicity Crotty explores methods to investigate the feeding methods of the vast biodiveristy in soil. 



Mapping biodiversity with environmental niche modeling

Schematic of environmental niche modeling

Maps of biodiversity at global and continental scales plays a pivotal role in ecology, evolutionary biology, and conservation biology.  Diversity maps give insight into the action of ecological and evolutionary processes at large scales, and they can guide management decisions.


Ethanol production, environmental sustainability and soil biodiversity in Brazil

Brazil has become a reference in the production and marketing of renewable energy through the strengthening of the ethanol productive chain from sugarcane, recognized as the most efficient in the agroenergy industry. However many questions remain regarding the environmental sustainability and land use effects of ethanol production, espcially with regard to soil biodiversity. Here Carlos Cerri and André Franco of the University of Sāo Paulo discuss their research project in the Cerrado where they are examining land use change enfects on soil fauna. 


Root herbivores: More than meets the eye

In this post, Carly Benefer makes a case for root herbivores with a bad reputation.  As key members of below-ground biodiversity, these destructive pests have important ecosystem functions just as any other species, but their positive side is often overlooked.



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