About 80% of the global terrestrial C pool is located in soils, and over 50% of the CO2 evolved from soils is due to respiration of heterotrophic biota involved in net secondary production. Consequently, the flux of C from belowground to the atmosphere through respiration is >10 times larger than anthropogenic emissions, and changes in soil respiration could significantly increase or mitigate current increases of CO2. Predictions derived from global scale CO2 models differ significantly, with the anticipated amount of CO2 in the atmosphere varying by up to 200 ppm at the end of this century. Global scale CO2 predictive models concatenate sets of models that describe biophysical processes and climate. Global circulation models are coupled with soil organic matter (SOM) decomposition models by interpolating dynamic global vegetation models, and a great deal of the variability in final predictions is due to uncertainties in the terrestrial C cycle. Improving SOM mineralization models is essential to progress towards more precise global predictions and, to achieve this, soil biota must be explicitly represented in SOM models. Soil microbes carry out most of the SOM transformation, but larger soil animals are crucial as regulators of the process and must be considered. The general objective of this project is to model effects of soil food webs on C and N mineralization and on gas emissions from soil, including effects of soil fauna (from a soil food web perspective), and to couple this model with the SOM submodel of the DYANET model. The project will be held at the Colorado State University under Dr. D.H. Wall for soil biodiversity and Drs. JH Moore and W. Parton for soil food web and SOM modeling. The EU has recognized a severe knowledge gap on soil biodiversity functions, including effects on soil biogeochemical cycles. Therefore, this project addresses two priority research areas of the 7th Framework Programme: soil biodiversity and global C cycle.
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