Chapter 5: Threats

Soil organisms are sensitive to changes in land use, climate, and natural disturbance.  Human soil disturbances like mining, road and building construction, tillage for agriculture, erosion, and land degradation are major threats to soil biodiversity, particularly impacting fungi and soil invertebrates.  In many cases, these changes lead in irrevocable changes in soil biodiversity and soil functioning. In addition, invasive species, including invasive soil organisms, can decrease biodiversity and alter decomposition and nutrient cycling rates.  Increased wildfire intensity can directly impact soil organisms, alter plant inputs, and change water infiltration capacity. Climate change may shift soil communities, and also changes how quickly soil communities decompose plant material and soil organic matter.  People rely on soil for food, clean water, flood and drought mediation, and climate regulation. As we recognize both our reliance on ecosystems and our ability to alter them, it is important to understand how we negatively impact soil organisms that support us, and how we can change behavior to protect soil biodiversity and sustain our future.

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