Soil fauna reactions to land use change

Source: Pexels

September 14, 2023.  

Agriculture: a global driver of biodiversity decline

Land-use intensification is widely recognized as a significant contributor to the decline in global biodiversity and the primary factor exerting pressure on soil biodiversity. It is therefore crucial to comprehend how soil
biodiversity responds to various land-management practices, as this would enable us to design appropriate strategies for potential future land-use changes.


However, there is still a lot we do not know about the consistent responses of different soil-faunal groups to land-use intensification. Often, various taxa [groups of organisms classified based on their shared characteristics], exhibit divergent reactions to more intense land-use practices, and the composition of the soil faunal community is seldom linked directly to the level of land-use intensity.
This observation suggests that the drivers influencing community composition may differ from those affecting overall biodiversity.

A global meta-analysis to quantify effects of land-use intensification

A ZEF research team systematically assessed and quantified the effects of land-use intensification on soil organisms in global agroecosystems by conducting a meta-analysis. We then analyzed if and to what extent these effects depend on abiotic factors such as climatic variables and soil characteristics. At the taxon level, it is evident that land-use intensification exerts a more pronounced impact on diversity than on individual population sizes. Among various agricultural practices, conventional agriculture making use of tillage, fertilization, herbicide, and monocropping has shown the most detrimental effects on soil
fauna when compared to less intense forms of agriculture.
So we see that the influence of intensification varies significantly across different taxa highlighting the diverse and complex responses exhibited by various species and communities to changes in land-management practices. The mechanisms governing the response of different taxa to land-use intensification are likely influenced by alterations in the plant community and abiotic environmental factors. Understanding these intricate relationships is vital for making informed decisions regarding land management and biodiversity conservation.

The future is for more sustainable agricultural practices

The above findings imply that transitioning towards sustainable agricultural practices is crucial to mitigate the negative effects on soil fauna. Beyond, adaptive land-management strategies should be adopted to account for the diverse responses of different taxonomic groups. Continuous research, monitoring, and the implementation of robust policies and regulations are necessary to achieve a balance between increased agricultural productivity (required for food security) and environmental sustainability while safeguarding biodiversity.


Author: Bibiana Betancur Corredor is a senior researcher at ZEF.

This article was published in ZEF News No. 47.


Bibiana Betancur Corredor

Dr. Bibiana Betancur Corredor


Diese Webseite verwendet Cookies

Diese Website verwendet Cookies – nähere Informationen dazu und zu Ihren Rechten als Benutzer finden Sie in unserer Datenschutzerklärung am Ende der Seite. Klicken Sie auf „Ich stimme zu“, um Cookies zu akzeptieren und direkt unsere Website besuchen zu können.
Read more