RWTH Scientists Research Diversity of Soil


RWTH scientists from the Chair of Environmental Biology and Chemodynamics are working on a GBIF-Edaphobase: Information System, Data Repositorium, Data Infrastructure, and Service Platform for Soil Zoology on the biodiversity of soil.


The Federal Ministry of Education and Research is funding the work with 540000 euros for a total of four years. Additional project partners are the Senckenberg Museum of Natural History in Görlitz, the State Museum of Natural History in Karlsruhe, ECT Oekotoxikologie GmbH in Flörsheim am Main, the Botanical Garden and Botanical Museum at the Free University of Berlin, and gaiac – Research Institute of Ecosystem Analysis and Evaluation at RWTH Aachen.

Diverse Organisms

Due to its diversity soil is comparable to tropical rain forests and coral reefs: diverse organism communities are organized into very complex food webs. Soil composition and development are dependent on the existence and activities of this diverse community of soil organisms. They influence functions such as soil fertility or climate regulation and deliver a substantial contribution to the ecosystem performance of soil. Despite this high value the structural and functional diversity of soil organisms have been insufficiently protected till this point.

The "Edaphobase" information system developed at the Senckenberg Museum of Natural History in Görlitz is the foundation for this scientific work. This summarizes data on soil diversity in vast numbers and makes them usable for different evaluation processes. The information system will be expanded into an assessment instrument for data in Germany and interconnected with the national  biodiversity initiatives and institutions. On the global scale Edaphobase is a pilot project for assessing the effects of different stressors on the environment.

Developing Models

The Aachen scientists' goal is to develop models on living communities, processes, and dependencies of environmental factors in complex soil ecosystems. They want to develop impact hypotheses from these models and statistically test them. The requirements of the national biodiversity strategy will be put into practice and linked to soil function. Collaboration with state and federal authorities will strengthen soil biodiversity as a topic of investigation.