Ecological Function and Biodiversity Indicators in European Soils (EcoFINDERS)

The strategic goal of EcoFINDERS is to provide the EC with tools to design and implement soil strategies aimed at ensuring sustainable use of soils, including: (1) the characterisation of European soil biodiversity, (2) the determination of relations between soil biodiversity, soil functions and ecosystem services, and (3) the design of policy-relevant and cost-effective indicators for monitoring soil biodiversity. The project will develop and standardise tools and procedures to measure microbial and faunal diversity, describe the diversity of soil organisms (microbes and fauna),  decipher the interactions among soil organisms and with plants through foodwebs and determine the role played by soil organisms in soils ecosystem services (nutrient cycling, carbon storage, water retention, soil structure regulation, resistance to pests and diseases, and regulation of above-ground diversity). In addition, cost-effective bioindicators for measuring sustainability of the microbial and faunal diversity and their associated functions (using a combination of metrics and meta-analysis) will be established and the economic value of ecosystem services will be evaluated. Finally, effective communication strategies to engage the European public around issues associated with the sustainability of soil biodiversity will be developed and implemented.