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Soil biodiversity and its contribution to ecosystem services
Date de clôture : 27 sept. 2022  
- 132 jours

 Pêche et alimentation
 Égalité des sexes
 Sciences du climat
 Internet des objets (IoT)
 Intelligence artificielle


This topic contributes to the objectives and targets of the EU Soil Strategy[1] which foresees that by 2050, all soils in the EU should be healthy, i.e. are in good chemical, physical and biological conditions, and thus able to continuously provide as many ecosystem services as possible. It also contributes to the Mission ‘A Soil Deal for Europe’[2], in particular to its specific objective 6 “Improve soil structure to enhance habitat quality for soil biota and crops”.

Project results should contribute to all of the following outcomes:

  • Significantly improved understanding of ecosystem services related to soil biodiversity as well as of the role of soil biodiversity in the provision of relevant soil functions and ecosystem services.
  • Enhanced protection, sustainable management and restoration of soil ecosystems through more targeted (policy) incentives and wide-spread knowledge on sustainable soil management practices and solutions, including a better integration of soil within land use planning and frameworks to evaluate ecosystem services.
  • Significantly improved availability of soil biodiversity indicators which support the implementation, assessment and monitoring of policy at large scale (i.e. EU).

Soils underpin the delivery of a range of ecosystem services which are essential for the environmental, social and economic wellbeing of people. Many of these services such as the production of biomass for food and other uses, removal of pollutants, support of above-ground biodiversity (e.g. farmland birds), provision of soil structure, nutrient cycling and carbon storage depend on the activities of a fascinating and complex network of soil organisms such as insects, invertebrates, bacterial and fungal organisms.

While our knowledge about individual components of soil biodiversity has significantly increased, the links between soil biodiversity, the multifunctionality of soils and the delivery of ecosystem services needs to be further explored. Furthermore, there is still a need to better understand the overall organisation of soil organisms (e.g. in terms of abundance, species richness, relationships of interdependence, evolution through time and community structure) and how pressures and drivers (including their interactions) resulting from different forms of land use and climate change affect the composition, functions, resilience and adaptation capacities of soil biota and their capacity to support multiple ecosystem services (ES).

Proposed activities should:

  • Provide a comprehensive view of the composition, functions, and dynamics of the network of soil-living communities (e.g. species distribution, abundance, ecological interactions and belowground-aboveground relationship) under different types and intensities of land use in agricultural, forest, (semi-) natural and urban areas.
  • Establish the links between soil biodiversity, soil functions and ecosystem services taking into account potential trade-offs between different ES.
  • Propose indicators for capturing and measuring soil biodiversity (beyond red list species) and the provision of ES and demonstrate practical approaches for the use of these indicators by land managers and policy-decision makers.
  • Identify drivers and pressures (including their interactions) of soil biodiversity in different types of land use and explore their effects on soil community composition and functioning and how ES provision is altered and hampered as a consequence of these pressures. Due attention should be given to under-studied pressures and drivers, as justified by proposals.
  • Provide a framework to assess and value the contribution of soil biodiversity to ES in economic terms, building on existing work including the one undertaken under the initiative “Mapping and Assessment of Ecosystem Services”[3] (MAES).
  • Translate the knowledge created into practical applications for land managers and policy-decision makers to increase the uptake of practices that promote soil biodiversity and optimise its contribution to soil functions ES.

In carrying out activities, proposals should consider various land uses such as urban, agriculture, forest, (semi)-natural, wetlands, drylands, industrial and mining, and highlight those types of soils where previous research has shown significant knowledge gaps. With regard to agriculture, work should draw on sustainable practices, applied across a range of farming systems and benefit both conventional and organic farming. Activities should be carried across a range of climatic/biogeographical regions in the EU and Associated Countries and take into account different spatial scales (e.g. field, landscape). Transdisciplinary approaches should be applied and include social sciences and humanities. The project should follow a multi-actor approach.

Activities should be undertaken in close cooperation with the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) and the European Environment Agency (EEA). The cooperation with the JRC is particularly relevant in view of further developing the LUCAS Soil survey and the Soil Health Dashboard under the European Soil Observatory (EUSO). Proposals should demonstrate a route towards open access, longevity, sustainability and interoperability of knowledge and outputs through close collaboration with the EUSO and other projects to be funded under the Soil Deal mission.

Projects funded under this topic should also take into account major R&I initiatives such as the European Joint Programme EJP Soil[4], the European Biodiversity Partnership Biodiversa+[5], the Global Soil Partnership[6][7], the Global Soil Biodiversity Initiative SoilBON[8], EuropaBON[9] and other projects working on soil biodiversity. To this end proposals should foresee dedicated tasks and allocate appropriate resources.

In this topic, the integration of the gender dimension (sex and gender analysis) in research and innovation content is not a mandatory requirement.

Cross-cutting Priorities:

Digital Agenda
Social sciences and humanities
Societal Engagement
Artificial Intelligence










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