Causes and functional consequences of soil fauna distribution patterns under global change

01 November 2021 → 31 October 2025
Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO)
Research disciplines
  • Natural sciences
    • Community ecology
    • Soil ecology
    • Conservation and biodiversity
    • Ecosystem services
    • Soil biology
Soil fauna distribution Global change Ecosystem functioning
Project description

Species distribution is shaped by (a)biotic factors, currently subject to fast global change inducing distributional shifts. Biodiversity is crucial to ecosystem functioning and changes in species distribution can thus have consequences for ecosystem services to mankind. Soils and their large biodiversity are involved in many ecosystem services such as nutrient cycling, carbon and water storage. Hence, understanding how soil organisms respond to global change help to predict future ecosystem functioning. In the projects’ first phase, we use a unique, detailed database containing distribution data on Belgian woodlice paired with microhabitat data. This data is combined with species’ trait data enabling to identify key traits to understand the modelled current and future distributions. Model generalizability is tested during a research stay (collaboration with Johns Hopkins University) using woodlice distribution data of Maryland (US) with the same species as Belgium but in a totally different context. In the second phase, we use innovative field experiments to test the effects of current and future species communities on important ecosystem functions being litter decomposition and bioturbation. Communities are assembled based on traits likely to dominate in the future based on our modeling study. These experiments allow us to couple distributional changes to predicted effects on soil ecosystem functioning under future global change.