Project properties

Title The role of soil biological communities in supporting soil structure and health
Group Soil Biology
Project type thesis
Credits 24-39
Supervisor(s) Felix David, dr. Carmen Vazquez Martin
Examiner(s) Prof Dr Rachel Creamer
Contact info
Begin date 2024/08/01
End date
Description To study and quantify the contribution of soil biota to soil structural processes and multifunctionality and to test the resilience of soil biota to biodiversity loss, I am setting up a microcosm experiment and I am looking for a potential Master student with interest in ecology and understanding mechanistic soil food web processes.

In this microcosm experiment we will use different soil community compositions based on size by sieving with different mesh sizes following an approach by Wagg et al. (2014).

We expect the reduced communities to perform soil processes worse than the more complex ones and want to study how the processes change if we reduce the soil biota. To what degree of biodiversity degradation can the community keep up functioning soil processes? I will especially focus on soil structural processes. This experiment has the potential to answer a wide range of questions regarding the role of soil biota in soil functioning, so I am happy to work in your interests and to come up with your own questions and hypotheses.

Soils will be sampled in late summer, early fall 2024 in Austria. The master thesis includes field work for one week in Austria and lab work as well as working in the greenhouses of Unifarm.

Further literature:

Wagg, C., Bender, S. F., Widmer, F., & Van Der Heijden, M. G. (2014). Soil biodiversity and soil community composition determine ecosystem multifunctionality. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 111(14), 5266-5270.

Used skills setting up microcosm, measurement of soil biological, chemical, and physical characteristics, eDNA, micro-x-ray/ 3D imaging, stable isoptes, data analysis, structural equation modelling, literature study, publication