Towards resilient soil

The estimation of Collembola as a key indicator group of soil health

Soil biodiversity is vital for soil ecosystem functioning and services such as litter decomposition, nutrient cycling and various aboveground vegetation dynamics. Resilient ecosystems are needed to withstand global changes such as climate change or biological invasions. Understanding the functional roles of soil organisms is crucial to develop more sustainable agricultural practices. This project will aim to assess the diversity and populations of springtails that occur in agricultural areas and the role they play in soil health.

We will revise this important agricultural soil group globally by stable isotopes, focusing in particular on trophic community structure at different spatial scales. A parallel study of this component of soil fauna will be conducted in agricultural regions in Russia and South Africa, which will reveal general patterns of Collembola assemblages in agricultural ecosystems.

Dr Mikhail Potapov sampling in a wheat field in Russia.

Collembola sampled in an agricultural field (Langgewens Research Farm) in the Western Cape, South Africa.

This project is funded by the SA (NRF) / Russia (RFBR) Joint Science and Technology Research Collaboration.