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FUBIA: Soil Function-Biodiversity relationship And regional variation
Coordinator - Mónica Amorim
Programme - PTDC/AAC-CLI/103719/2008
Execution dates - 2010-04-01 - 2013-12-31 (45 Months)
Funding Entity - Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia
Funding for CESAM - 150000 €
Total Funding - 150000 €
Proponent Institution - Universidade de Aveiro

Worldwide there are an increasing number of initiatives to protect the ecological processes in soil. Although the main aim for international soil protection is to protect both the soil structure and the soil function, the current soil protection approach mainly deals with protecting the soil structure level. This problem has been known for many years, and attempts have been made to link single species tests with soil function. Few studies have attempted this at the community level. Although some studies have been performed linking the community structure to the soil function under contaminated conditions, it is difficult to extrapolate these to a broader geographical range in Europe, because it is unknown if the environmental variables, such as soil type and climate conditions, are acting on function the same way they influence the biological soil structure. In addition, there is a growing consensus that the 20th century human activities have induced dramatic and unpreceeded changes in the global chemical and physical environment, including rise in temperature and a drought in many areas, including Portugal. These climate changes might be slow, but they are likely to induce short-term extreme events[1]. Such climate changes will have strong effects on the terrestrial ecosystem, ether by themselves or combined with chemical pollution,. Hence, there is a lack of models that can translate the influence of pollutants on both structure and function to various environmental conditions and changes in these. Here we propose to study the soil function when impacted due to a toxic stress, and also due to changes in factors such as temperature and humidity, or organism abundance, in order to simulate possible regional and climatic changes. These controlled experiments will be validated with field tests and by comparison to a renowned contaminated site. The study will consist of analysing soil function, using parameters such as organic matter degradation, feeding activity, biodiversity. Field and laboratory experiments will be run. Laboratory experiments will test, under controlled conditions, different temperatures, moisture levels and organisms abundance. With field experiments, data can be compared and validated. A 3-dimensional model (surface response model) will be developed so that it can be used to extrapolate results to larger geographical regions and to make prediction of effects following future climate changes, such as what will happen to the organic matter pool of soil under climate changes. Hence, the model can have a predictive value for both Risk Assessment and for the protection of soil function, and stands as one of the major purposes within this project.

Members on this project

Mónica Amorim
Principal Investigator

Vera Lúcia Maria
Post-Doc grant holder