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      Identifying potential threats to soil biodiversity

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          Abstract

          A decline in soil biodiversity is generally considered to be the reduction of forms of life living in soils, both in terms of quantity and variety. Where soil biodiversity decline occurs, it can significantly affect the soils’ ability to function, respond to perturbations and recover from a disturbance. Several soil threats have been identified as having negative effects on soil biodiversity, including human intensive exploitation, land-use change and soil organic matter decline. In this review we consider what we mean by soil biodiversity, and why it is important to monitor. After a thorough review of the literature identified on a Web of Science search concerning threats to soil biodiversity (topic search: threat* “soil biodiversity”), we compiled a table of biodiversity threats considered in each paper including climate change, land use change, intensive human exploitation, decline in soil health or plastic; followed by detailed listings of threats studied. This we compared to a previously published expert assessment of threats to soil biodiversity. In addition, we identified emerging threats, particularly microplastics, in the 10 years following these knowledge based rankings. We found that many soil biodiversity studies do not focus on biodiversity sensu stricto, rather these studies examined either changes in abundance and/or diversity of individual groups of soil biota, instead of soil biodiversity as a whole, encompassing all levels of the soil food web. This highlights the complexity of soil biodiversity which is often impractical to assess in all but the largest studies. Published global scientific activity was only partially related to the threats identified by the expert panel assessment. The number of threats and the priority given to the threats (by number of publications) were quite different, indicating a disparity between research actions versus perceived threats. The lack of research effort in key areas of high priority in the threats to soil biodiversity are a concerning finding and requires some consideration and debate in the research community.

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          Most cited references 110

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          Comparative metagenomics of microbial communities.

          The species complexity of microbial communities and challenges in culturing representative isolates make it difficult to obtain assembled genomes. Here we characterize and compare the metabolic capabilities of terrestrial and marine microbial communities using largely unassembled sequence data obtained by shotgun sequencing DNA isolated from the various environments. Quantitative gene content analysis reveals habitat-specific fingerprints that reflect known characteristics of the sampled environments. The identification of environment-specific genes through a gene-centric comparative analysis presents new opportunities for interpreting and diagnosing environments.
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            A history of research on the link between (micro)aggregates, soil biota, and soil organic matter dynamics

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              Biochar effects on soil biota – A review

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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                Journal
                PeerJ
                PeerJ
                peerj
                peerj
                PeerJ
                PeerJ Inc. (San Diego, USA )
                2167-8359
                12 June 2020
                2020
                : 8
                Affiliations
                Department of Sustainable Land Management and Soil Research Centre, School of Agriculture Policy and Development, University of Reading , Reading, Berkshire, United Kingdom
                Article
                9271
                10.7717/peerj.9271
                7295018
                ©2020 Tibbett et al.

                This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, reproduction and adaptation in any medium and for any purpose provided that it is properly attributed. For attribution, the original author(s), title, publication source (PeerJ) and either DOI or URL of the article must be cited.

                Funding
                Funded by: European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme for research, technological development and demonstration
                Award ID: 603498
                Funding for this work was from the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme for research, technological development and demonstration under grant agreement no 603498. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.
                Categories
                Agricultural Science
                Biodiversity
                Ecology
                Soil Science
                Environmental Contamination and Remediation

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