As you may know, the international biodiversity program, DIVERSITAS is
planning an International Biodiversity Observation year (IBOY)
http://www.lmcp.jussieu.fr/icsu/DIVERSITAS/. probably to begin in 2001
to last one or, perhaps, two years.
The SCOPE (the Scientific Committee on Problems in the Environment) Soil
and Sediment Biodiversity and Ecosystem Functioning (SSBEF) Committee is
starting to assemble ideas for research/synthesis projects within the
Criteria for these projects include:
(1) They must relate SOIL and/or SEDIMENT biodiversity to ecosystem
(2)They must be international in scope,
(3) They should be conceptually broad
(4) Ideally, they should be fundable locally as finding international
funding may prove to be difficult. Thus, it is hoped individual
and volunteers will see themselves as contributors to a global project.
(5) They should be able to produce results over the time period, but
not necessarily (indeed, almost certainly will not) be expected to be
completed. Thus, an IBOY project might launch a longer-term global
In consultation with other colleagues we have begun to assemble a
list of projects to be discussed more broadly at a Diversitas planning
session in three weeks, in Mexico City. We would, first, like to share
possible ideas with you, and get your reaction to them; and second, to
solicit any other ideas you might have.
1. World-wide sporocarp (toadstool) survey.
A worldwide truffle hunt. In the woodlands of Europe, mushrooms
and other fungi are being heavily impacted by human activities. A
survey during IBOY will evaluate the degree of the problem.
As part of this effort we will tap into the huge and un tapped
knowledge base provided by indigenous peoples. Scientists
will assess what the loss of fungi could mean for the soil decomposing
processes needed by forest ecosystems - and for the humans who
depend on forests for erosion control, water purification and other
ecosystem services. In the woodlands of Europe, mushrooms are
shifting their range, a change that may put pressure on shrubs and
trees that depend on certain types of soil fungi. A survey during IBOY
will evaluate the role of mushrooms, truffles and other
soil-decomposing organisms in ecosystem processes around the
2. Comparison of decomposition rates
2(a). Cross-regional comparisons of decomposition rates.
This study would look at decomposition rates in soils, freshwater and
marine sediments. Within each domain, a 'universal' labile and
recalcitrant (wood) substrate would be decomposed at sites at different
latitudes. Causal factors that may vary with latitude including
precipitation and functional group and species richness and composition
will be examined.
2(b)In a sister study, the relative rate of decomposition for native vs.
non-native substrates will be determined.
(i)across similar biomes at similar latitudes
(ii) across similar vegetation types at different latitudes, and
(ii) across different biomes at similar and different latitudes
3. An investigation and listing of non-native soil and sediment species
invading into damaged (e.g. by acid deposits, N supply, global climate
change etc.) native ecosystems. This effort will tap into indigenous
4. To collate all existing data on soil macroinvertebrate communities
collected across comparable experiments and stimulate further data
collections. This data will then be organized into a database, used to
develop synthetic indexes based on macrofauna communities that will
evaluate different aspects of soil quality, e.g. biodiversity,
organic content, physical degredation.
These are examples of some of the proposed projects. The SCOPE SSBEF
Committee would welcome any comments on the above and any suggestions of
further projects. We are particularly interested in projects that can
engage scientists in the developing regions of the world and may result
increased capacity building and training in those areas.
Please email any comments and suggestions Diana Wall
(diana at nrel.colostate.edu) (PLEASE DO NOT REPLY TO THE LISTSERVER)by
Many thanks in advance for your input.