The concept of a “microbiome” is increasingly well-embedded in our scientific understanding, not just of soil communities, but also in other areas such as medicine. Driven forward by community-level genetic techniques, a deeper knowledge of microbial communities is shaping our understanding of how interventions affect the balance of organisms in a system, and is revealing links between microbial communities and ecosystem function. However, microbes are not the only inhabitants of soil. Communities of larger organisms – soil meso- and macro-fauna – inhabit the same world, but interact with it at different scales and timescales. This makes them potentially valuable indicators of a different set of soil conditions and functions than those revealed by microbes. This conference aims to showcase innovative approaches to exploring the soil macrobiome, revealing what it can tell us about soil conditions and function.
The Association of Applied Biologists Soil Biology Special Interest Group was established in 2017 to bring together expertise in soil biology from a wide variety of disciplines and backgrounds, including soil scientists, ecologists, taxonomists, agronomists, microbiologists, entomologists and agriculturalists. It aims to disseminate the latest advances in soil biology, showcase how state-of-the-art techniques can develop our knowledge of the soil community, and to explore human impacts on soil life and its function.
This conference follow the inaugural conference in April 2017, and will be part of a programme of annual “Advances” conferences each exploring a topic of increasing importance in soil biology. Offers of oral presentations and posters are welcome from all groups who are working on any aspect of soil biology, but contributions are particularly welcome which include consideration of communities of non-microbial soil organisms, or interactions between microbes and larger soil fauna.
The conferences will also include a “forward look” session on a topic of potential future importance. This session in the 2018 conference aims to consider the flow of energy through soil food webs in agroecosystems, and the implications of this for wider ecosystem function.
Emma Sherlock (Curator of Annelids at the Natural History Museum, London)