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Project Introduction

In addition to being the medium for plant growth, soil provides a habitat for a range of organisms, which range from microbes (including bacteria and fungi), microfauna (such as protozoa and nematodes), mesofauna (such as microarthropods and enchytraeids) and macrofauna (such as earthworms, termites, and millipedes) to larger mammals, reptiles and birds.

Soils are actually home to over one fourth of all living species on earth, and one teaspoon of garden soil may contain thousands of species, millions of individuals, and a hundred metres of fungal networks. Soil organisms provide numerous and essential services such as nutrient cycling, soil formation and primary production. In addition, soil biodiversity influences all the main environmental services such as the regulation of atmospheric composition and climate, water quantity and quality, pest and disease incidence in agricultural and natural ecosystems, and human diseases. Soil organisms may also control, or reduce environmental pollution. Finally, soil organisms also contribute to provisioning services that directly benefit people, for example, the development of novel pharmaceuticals.

The Joint Research Centre of European Commission and the Global Soil Biodiversity Initiative ( are pleased to announce the writing of the first Global Soil Biodiversity Atlas.

Soil biodiversity experts from all over the world are involved in the project, which aims to create of an informative and easy to read reference publication for the public, teachers, soil biodiversity researchers and policy makers.

Global Soil Biodiversity

Call for Photos for the Global Soil Biodiversity Atlas

How you can contribute to the Atlas? Pick one of your pictures on soil and its biodiversity and send it to us. More information about this Call for Photos.

Taking pictures of soil biodiversity is not limited to soil-dwelling organisms. In fact soil biodiversity incorporates many other aspects. Here is a list of the four topics for the photos that you could send us:

  1. Soil organisms. Soils are inhabited by many different organisms such as bacteria, fungi, insects, earthworms, and mammals. Just look down and click.
  2. Soil ecosystems. Soil biodiversity is present in all environments, from the Arctic to deserts, through forests, agricultural fields, and grasslands. Take pictures of landscapes where soil biodiversity is present.
  3. Threats to soil biodiversity. Soil biodiversity is increasingly under threat. Soil erosion, urbanization (soil sealing), pollution, fire, climate change, deforestation, and intensive land use are some examples. You could take pictures showing one of these critical aspects.
  4. Awareness of soil biodiversity. It is more and more important to raise awareness of the importance of soil biodiversity among the public as well as policy makers. Education and playing with soil represent some of the ways to reach this goal. Furthermore, soil has different meanings for different cultures. If you have captured one of these cultural differences during one of your journeys, please send us your photo!

We would like to thank all contributors for making the Global Soil Biodiversity Atlas possible with their wonderful snapshots.

Four questions to know about the Global Soil Biodiversity Atlas

A publication full of wonderful images, with 7 chapters covering all aspects of soil biodiversity:

The Global Soil Biodiversity Atlas will be a reference publication not only for soil biodiversity researchers but also policy makers and general public.

The Editorial Board of the Global Soil Biodiversity Atlas includes expert scientists. Here are the members of the editorial board:

As global the Atlas will be completed thanks to the contributions of more than 60 authors from all over the world.

The main aims of the Global Soil Biodiversity Atlas are:

The Global Soil Biodiversity Atlas will be released and presented in 2015, the International Year of Soil.

Various information

Some examples of how the Atlas would look like.You can dowload some available pages

images from globals oil biodiversity

Contact Points

Feedback and Information: Alberto Orgiazzi



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European Commission - Joint Research Centre
Institute for Environment and Sustainability
Marc Van Liedekerke(tel. +39-0332-785179)
Panos Panagos (tel. +39-0332-785574)