Biodiversity factor in soil erosion.

A biological factor to be included in soil erosion modelling. The available data for Earthwork diversity (richness and abundance) introduced a new "earthworm factor" to be incorporated in soil erosion modelling.
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Joint Research Centre of the European Commission

New estimates of soil loss can be generated by including biological factors in soil erosion models. At the same time, the effects of soil loss on belowground diversity require further investigation. Available data and technologies make both processes possible. We think that it is time to commit to fostering the fundamental, although complex, relationship between soil biodiversity and erosion.

In this context, we identified three possible areas of research that, in our opinion, require advances in the coming years:

  1. Comprehension and quantification of the interactions between soil biodiversity and erosion;
  2. Development and integration of a “biodiversity factor” into the models used to assess soil erosion;
  3. Assessment of the ecological impact of soil erosion on soil‐living communities.

According to the current (limited) knowledge, earthworms can play a key role in reducing soil erosion, mainly due to their burrowing activity that increase soil porosity. Based available pan-European (11 countries) maps of earthworm richness and abundance, we developed an “Earthworm factor” (Et-factor) to be integrated into soil erodibility (K-factor) calculation. Due to uncertainty on the potential impact of earthworm communities on soil loss, two Et-factors were generated, one including richness and abundance (EtAR-factor), the other only abundance data (EtA-factor). Both factors were then included into K-factor to obtain revised soil erosibility values (KEt-factor).

Four maps available for download:

  1. Et_Factor_Abundance_Richness (EtAR-factor): Earthworm factors calculated considering both richness and abundance data
  2. K_factor_Et_Abundance_Richness: New soil erodibility including EtAR-factor
  3. Et_Factor_Abundance (EtA-factor): Earthworm factors calculated considering only abundance data
  4. K_factor_Et_Abundance: New soil erodibility including EtA-factor

Spatial Coverage: Pan-European, 11 countries: Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Luxembourg, Slovenia, Spain (partly), the Netherlands and the United Kingdom
Resolution: 500m
Time Reference: 2009
Format: Raster (tiff)
Projection: GRS_1980_IUGG_1980_Lambert_Azimuthal_Equal_Area
Input data: Soil erodibility (Panagos et al., 2014) and earthworm richness and abundance (Rutgers, Orgiazzi et al., 2016) in Europe
More Information: Soil biodiversity and soil erosion
Release Date: 23/11/2018

The methodology and the results of this study are explained in the recent published paper.

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