Global Mountain Biodiversity Assessment (GMBA)

Working groups

Mountain soil biodiversity

Julia Seeber, Elia Guariento, Michael Steinwandter

Short description

Soils harbour at least one fourth of all terrestrial species described to date and provide a range of essential ecosystem services, including carbon storage and nutrient cycling. Mountain soils, specifically, are characterized by a particularly high diversity of rare and specialist species that are adapted to large fluctuations in environmental conditions, strong seasonal changes, or low temperatures. Yet, belowground biodiversity has historically received limited attention, especially so in mountains, where remoteness and considerable variations in soil condition over short distances render field work particularly challenging. Accordingly, numerous opportunities exist to fill data and knowledge gaps and contribute to global initiatives such as the Global Soil Biodiversity Initiative (GSBI) or the global Soil Biodiversity Observation Network (Soil BON) with a focus on mountains. This working group aims at bringing together a community of mountain soil scientists to address these gaps.

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The specific objectives of this working group are:

  • build a mountain soil biodiversity science network, with a primary focus on alpine soils (i.e. soils located in the upper montane, lower and upper alpine, and nival zones)
  • initiate comprehensive, comparable, and interdisciplinary biodiversity surveys across various soil layers and taxonomic levels (microbiota (i.e. bacteria, archaea, fungi, algae, and viruses), microfauna (protozoans, tardigrades, rotifers, nematodes), mesofauna (i.e. mites, springtails, enchytraeids, etc.) and the macrofauna (i.e. earthworms, arachnids, millipedes, centipedes, insects)
  • define standard sampling methods and approaches to investigate mountain soil biodiversity and enable comparative analyses across different mountain soil systems worldwide
  • define indicator taxa or functional groups to evaluate the ecological status of mountain soils (e.g. along gradients of land-use and climate)
  • pave the way for collaborations and joint sampling across mountain ranges, regions, nations as well as organism groups
  • promote the working group in relevant international conferences
  • encourage and support young researchers, also from the global South to investigate mountain soil ecosystems
Products of the GMBA working group on mountain soil biodiversity
 Deliverable  Status  Lead
Article: The state of mountain soil biodiversity research*
* preliminary title
Ongoing Julia Seeber
Article: Standardised methodologies to assess soil biodiversity in mountains*
* preliminary title
Ongoing Michael Steinwandter
Policy brief: Sustainable soil management in mountain regions Published Silvia Stanchi
 Name  Affiliation  
Julia Seeber Institute for Alpine Environment - Eurac Research, Italy GMBA Network
Michael Steinwandter Institute for Alpine Environment - Eurac Research, Italy GMBA Network
Nadine Praeg University of Innsbruck, Austria GMBA Network
 Bettina Weber University of Graz, Austria  GMBA Network
 Paul Illmer University of Innsbruck, Austria  GMBA Network
Christian Körner University of Basel, Switzerland GMBA SSC
Laszlo Nagy University of Campinas, Brazil GMBA SSC
Harald Pauli Global Observation Research Initiative in Alpine Environment, Austria  GMBA SSC
Davnah Payne
GMBA  GMBA office
Carlos Guerra Soil Biodiversity Observation Network, iDiv Partners
Diana H. Wall Global Soil Biodiversity Initiative Partners
 Alberto Orgiazzi Joint Research Center, European Commission, Italy Partners
Jonas Lembrechts Mountain Invasion Research Network (MIREN) Partners

Upcoming Event

Mountain soil biodiversity above the treeline

IMC2022, Innsbruck (Austria), 11-15.09.2022