A method of establishing a transect for biodiversity and ecosystem function monitoring across Europe

The establishment of the range of soil biodiversity found within European soils is needed to guide EU policy development regarding the protection of soil. Such a base-line should be collated from a wide-ranging sampling campaign to ensure that soil biodiversity from the majority of soil types, land-use or management systems, and European climatic (bio-geographical zones) were included. This paper reports the design and testing of a method to achieve the large scale sampling associated with the establishment of such a baseline, carried out within the remit of the EcoFINDERS project, and outlines points to consider when such a task is undertaken.

Applying a GIS spatial selection process, a sampling campaign was undertaken by 13 EcoFINDERS partners across 11 countries providing data on the range of indicators of biodiversity and ecosystem functions including; micro and meso fauna biodiversity, extracellular enzyme activity, PLFA and community level physiological profiling (MicroResp™ and Biolog™). Physical, chemical and bio-geographical parameters of the 81 sites sampled were used to determine whether the model predicted a wide enough range of sites to allow assessment of the biodiversity indicators tested.

Discrimination between the major bio-geographical zones of Atlantic and Continental was possible for all land-use types. Boreal and Alpine zones only allowed discrimination in the most common land-use type for that area e.g. forestry and grassland sites, respectively, while the Mediterranean zone did not have enough sites sampled to draw conclusions across all land-use types. The method used allowed the inclusion of a range of land-uses in both the model prediction stage and the final sites sampled. The establishment of the range of soil biodiversity across Europe is possible, though a larger targeted campaign is recommended. The techniques applied within the EcoFINDERS sampling would be applicable to a larger campaign

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0929139315300342