Periodic Reporting for period 4 - ECOWORM (ECOSYSTEM RESPONSES TO EXOTIC EARTHWORM INVASION IN NORTHERN NORTH AMERICAN FORESTS)
Reporting period: 2020-09-01 to 2021-02-28
Altogether, this project has been highly successful with more than 50 scientific papers in international, peer-reviewed journals. I expect that at least 10 more papers will be published by 2022. These results have also already been presented at dozens of scientific meetings, conferences, and workshops. Moreover, my group does a lot of public outreach. Since the start of ECOWORM, a total of over 350 mass media reports covered our research and outreach activities in print, radio, television, and online (social media not included). An ECOWORM exhibit will be shown in the German Pavilion at the EXPO 2020 in Dubai (now planned for 2021/2022). Four further complementary proposals received additional third-party funding that build on the present project and will help to further advance its contents.
Moreover, my postdocs and I led multiple perspectives and opinion papers on (1) the pervasive effects of exotic earthworms on multiple ecosystem functions, (2) the role of mycorrhizae for the functioning of terrestrial ecosystems, (3) important topics of future soil ecological research, (4) the future of biodiversity-ecosystem functioning research, (5) scaling-issues in soil biodiversity research, (6) gaps in global soil biodiversity data as well as the need and features of future soil biodiversity monitoring, and (7) the essential soil biodiversity variables and related soil health indicators for decision makers. We compiled a global dataset of earthworm communities from >9,000 sites in 57 countries to predict earthworm diversity patterns. In perspectives papers, we outlined that any soil biodiversity assessment needs to consider the different spatial and temporal scales. An important novel insight generated from our work is that climate variables are exceptionally important in driving soil organisms and functions, suggesting that climate change may have serious implications for soil communities. Work in ECOWORM stimulated the initiation of an international soil monitoring program based on essential soil biodiversity variables and holistic soil indicators. In addition to these significant novel findings, we are still expecting to publish papers on invasive earthworm effects on (1) soil ecosystem multifunctionality, (2) the structure and energy fluxes of above-belowground food webs, (3) and the biotic homogenization of ecological communities.