Research Projects

Soil food-web control of carbon cycling in EMF and AMF forests across climates and mycorrhiza types (2022-2028)

In this project, we assess soil food web structure and processes/stocks related to carbon cycling in EMF- and AMF-dominated forests systems in temperate and tropical regions. Our main objectives are to deliver realistic empirical reconstructions of soil food webs, and quantify effects of soil food web structure on ecosystem-level functions, focussing on carbon processing and stabilisation in soil in forests with different dominant mycorrhiza types. To achieve this, we combine meta-analyses, field experimentation (stable isotope labelling, tree diversity experiments), and large-scale observational studies. Ultimately, we aim to improve our understanding of carbon cycling in global soils. This project is supported by the Emmy Noether DFG programm.

Soil BON Foodweb Team (SBF Team, since 2021)

The SBF Team is an international initiative that is establishing a standardized global monitoring of soil animal communities across micro-, meso-, and macrofauna. This is an extensions of Soil BON (, and thus this initiative is the first to link soil animal communities across the size spectrum to a range of soil functions worldwide. This voluntary initiative includes soil ecologists from 30+ countries covering all continents.

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#GlobalCollembola initiative (since 2019)

#GlobalCollembola is a distributed-effort voluntary initiative aiming at understanding the global distribution of diversity and abundance of Collembola, one of the most abundant soil animal groups. We compiled published and unpublished data on abundance and species diversity (40,000+ samples representing 2500+ sites) of Collembola from around the globe and joins over 100 researchers. We are analysing these data, to understand different aspects of soil animal diversity, including ecological preferences, species distributions, community assembly processes and many other questions.

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Soil food webs: modelling structure-function relationships (2023-2024)

This is an exchange project with the research group of Prof. Franck Jabot from Clermont-Ferrand with the aim of linking modelling and empirical perspectives on soil food webs. Exchange between the two teams will serve to build models of the soil ecosystem linking various classes of soil fauna and the functioning of soil (e.g. nutrient cycling, organic matter decomposition). We plan joint workshops and reciprocal visits. This project is supported by DAAD (PROCOPE programm).

Food webs across temperate and tropical ecosystems (2020-2023)

The project aims to reveal general mechanisms and specific features of the structure and functioning of belowground food webs in four regions representing temperate (Germany, Russia) and tropical ecosystems (Indonesia, Vietnam). The base of the project is collaboration between the group of Prof. Dr. Stefan Scheu at the University of Göttingen and the group of Dr. Alexei Tiunov at the Institute of Ecology and Evolution, Russian Academy of Sciences. Across temperate and tropical ecosystems, we study size spectrum and biomass of soil fauna, soil food-web structure, and animal-mycorrhizal interactions. This project is supported by the Alexander von Humboldt foundation (Group linkage programm).

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Ecotaxonomy trait and morphospecies repository

Ecotaxonomy is an open cloud platform developed to integrate ecological research with taxonomic knowledge and expertise. It is a repository for functional traits, identification characters and morphospecies. In our virtual research environment, we link individual organisms to environmental conditions and functional traits. Personal ecological projects can be customized in the system, facilitating collaborative synergies of researchers worldwide. As a publicly available output, we provide pictorial catalogues for morphospecies and traits and interactive identification keys for taxa.

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