Assessing the state of soils

There are millions and millions of organisms in the soil under your feet that play a critical role in maintaining a multitude of global services. Often overlooked, these organisms control critical processes ranging from nutrient availability for plant growth to carbon sequestration for greenhouse gas mitigation. With recent advances in molecular techniques, global surveys and communication between researchers, scientists can now link this unseen diversity with key ecosystem services.

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Scratching the surface of soil microbial diversity

I recently wrote a post for my blogging group Early Career Ecologists. Briefly, I discuss a recent paper out by Dr. Noah Fierer and colleagues in PNAS, where they used metagenomic techniques to explore soil microbial communities of 16 soils from across five biome types. I chose to write about this publication because it exemplifies the amazing progress made in sequencing techniques and microbial ecology in such a short period of time.

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What is the GSBI? A brief synopsis of the GSBI’s past, present and future

The GSBI was formed with the goal of uniting scientists across disciplines (soil ecology, soil science, biogeochemistry, agroecology, policy) to convey soil biodiversity research to policy and land managers for global sustainability of ecosystem services. The GSBI looks to link science and policy through the application of rapidly expanding knowledge of soil biodiversity.

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An unexplored urban jungle

Tomorrow morning a group of soil ecologists will meet on the steps of the American Museum of Natural History to begin a day-long effort to sample the soils of Central Park, New York City. Within soil lives an astounding amount of biological diversity, scaling from microbes to insects and worms that is mostly invisible to the naked eye. One question researchers are interested in is how this biodiversity compares to soils in natural systems- Yellowstone National Park, for example.

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Successful trip for the GSBI at Rio+20

This last week Diana Wall, Science Chair and Kelly Ramirez, Executive Director of the Global Soil Biodiversity Initiative (GSBI) Secretariat attended the UN Conference on Global Sustainability, RIO+20. The GSBI was fortunate to have Drs. George Brown and Heitor Coutino of Embrapa in Brazil organize a very successful side event- “Towards a Truly Global Soil Biodiversity Initiative”. (More details to follow on our website.)

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GSBI at Planet Under Pressure: Days 2 & 3

Day 2 & 3:

The tones of urgency, warning and directness are presented repeatedly- no matter the subject. Still, there is a collective optimism (lead by Nobel Laureate Elinor Ostrom) and determination, suggesting that this meeting really will initiate the changes we need to see to mediate climate change and reduce biodiversity losses. The goal for GSBI is to integrate soil biodiversity into the conversation.

Some important questions/ideas/thoughts:

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