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About this collectionThe soil below our feet is home to an astonishing number of organisms that are vital for Earth’s ecosystems and for life, including humans. Scientists have found that one square meter of soil can be inhabited by up to 100,000,000,000 individuals of up to 10,000 different species! Some are relatively large, but most of them are microscopic. This brown world below our feet is home to some of the most astonishing creatures.
They are well adapted to a life in darkness with very little access to oxygen or space to move and have the ability to stay inactive for long periods of time if environmental conditions are not right. While we all may know soil contains plant roots, moles and earthworms, because they can be easily seen, we are far less aware of the organisms that stay below ground and that are too small to be seen with only our eyes.
While scientists have made a lot of progress on finding and describing the organisms that live in the soil and how many different soil organisms there are (i.e. soil biodiversity), there are still many things scientists do not know. For example, less is known about how these organisms interact with their environment, that is, what they eat, how they endure extreme conditions, and how they interact with the world above the ground.
Human activity around the globe affects all life on earth, even the brown world. Moving soil, altering the ground water level, introducing species that shouldn’t be there, replacing natural vegetation with agricultural crops, polluting soils, mining, and changing Earth’s climate, are just some of the ways we put soils at risk. In this collection, we aim to introduce you to the magnificent diversity of below-ground life, to creatures you may have never heard about despite them living below our feet. We will explain how scientists around the globe study soil organisms and soil biodiversity and what techniques are used to find soil animals, determine what they eat, how they hunt and how they are distributed across the Earth’s soils.
Finally, we will explore why the diversity and high number of soil organisms is important for life on Earth, including us. We will look at what threatens soil biodiversity and what consequences its decline might have for humanity. We believe that being aware of these organisms and their importance for our survival on this planet is key for conserving the vital brown world below our feet.
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M. Nils Peterson