Soil Biota

Soil ecology has part of its roots in soil zoology, and places heavy emphasis on the study of organisms within the context of the unique soil habitat. While historically emphasis had been placed upon the description and classification of soil organisms, contemporary focus links biodiversity and interactions of soil organisms to broader-scale ecological phenomena, including carbon fluxes, nutrient cycling, and biogeography. It should be noted that general understanding of biodiversity in soils has been historically undeveloped in part because in situ identification of soil microbes has been problematic; only around 10% of soil microbes have been successfully identified via in vitro culturing, and the taxonomic resolution of soil fauna is incomplete. Complicating matters further, soils are a complex and opaque medium, rendering even the in situ observation of macrofauna problematic. However, recent applications of genomic techniques to soil microbes and biogeographic perspectives on soil taxonomy have helped to increase our basic understanding of the diversity, abundance, and distribution of soil organisms.

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