Biodiversity plays a critical role in ensuring the stability and health of ecosystems, which in turn, create a conducive environment for human well-being. It is pivotal to safeguard and enhance biodiversity, recognizing its central role in ecosystem functionality.
Soils host a wide range of organisms, from microorganisms such as bacteria and fungi to microfauna like nematodes and mites. These organisms contribute to several essential ecosystem services, including nutrient cycling, carbon storage, and climate regulation, all of which rely on the preservation of below-ground biodiversity.
The diverse life forms existing beneath the Earth’s surface are crucial for supporting above-ground biodiversity. Soil microbes, fundamental to biogeochemical cycling, transform nutrients and make them accessible for plant uptake, facilitating robust plant growth in various ecosystems, including agricultural and forest systems. A healthy and balanced soil can store carbon and mitigate the effect of anthropogenic emissions, contributing to maintaining global warming below 1.5°C – protecting temperature sensitive life on land and oceans. Therefore, in addition to monitoring and protecting above ground life, it is essential to monitor and prevent damage to below ground biodiversity.
Biodiversity assessment is possible through non-invasive methods using environmental DNA (eDNA) sampling. This methodology enables the monitoring of community composition, richness, and abundance by starting with taxonomic baselining and identifying priority and invasive species. Compared to traditional biodiversity monitoring frameworks, eDNA analysis offers a sensitive, and time and cost-effective approach for rapidly assessing and monitoring biodiversity. This method provides crucial data for accurate risk assessment, biodiversity reporting, and evaluating the effectiveness of nature restoration initiatives, both above and below the ground.