The Swiss Times - Swiss News in English

More Living Creatures Live in the Ground Than Previously Assumed

A new study by a Swiss research team has revealed that two thirds of all known species live underground. This is more than double the previous estimates of the biodiversity in the soil. The study, published in the journal PNAS, was conducted by researchers from the Swiss Federal Research Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape (WSL), the University of Zurich and the agricultural research institute Agroscope. The researchers searched through the literature and re-evaluated existing datasets. The study showed that the diversity of the soil is great and should be taken into account in nature conservation. The most abundant species in the soil are fungi, which make up 90% of all fungal species, followed by plants with their roots at 86%. 20% of soft-bodied animals such as snails and earthworms also live in the soil. However, there is still a lack of data on the diversity of the smallest organisms such as bacteria, viruses, archaea, fungi and single-celled organisms, which are essential for nutrient recycling, carbon storage and disease control. The researchers also noted that the data on soil diversity is incomplete, especially in the global south. Their analysis is a "first but important" attempt to estimate the global species diversity living in the soil.nnnnnn

©Keystone/SDA

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