Soil BON Earthworm: A global initiative on earthworm distribution, traits, and spatiotemporal diversity patterns

Pierre Ganault* (Corresponding author), Christian Ristok, Helen Phillips, Mickael Hedde, Yvan Capowiez, Nicolas Bottinelli, Thibaud Decaëns, Daniel Marchan, Sylvain Gerard, Jérôme Mathieu, Anton M. Potapov, Erin K. Cameron, George Brown, Marie L. C. Bartz, Romy Zeiss, Yacouba Zi, Maria A. Tsiafouli, David J. Russell, Carlos A. Guerra, Nico Eisenhauer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journal/periodicalArticleScientificpeer-review


Recent research on earthworms has shed light on their global distribution, with high alpha richness in temperate zones and high beta diversity in tropical areas. Climate and agricultural practices, notably plowing and conservation methods, were shown to strongly influence earthworm communities. However, data gaps persist in regions like North Australia, Asia, Russia, and Africa, limiting our understanding of earthworm distribution and their responses to global changes. Understanding changes within earthworm communities is crucial given their profound influence on ecosystem functions such as soil structure, nutrient dynamics, and plant growth. Classifying earthworms into functional groups remains complex, prompting the adoption of a trait-based approach for a more comprehensive classification, but there is no representative global data on earthworm traits. To address these knowledge gaps, the Soil BON Earthworm initiative aims at creating a global community of earthworm experts, standardizing sampling methods and databases, collecting time series data on earthworm communities, and modeling future earthworm distributions under different climate scenarios. The initiative aims to address key questions, such as the dynamic of earthworm communities over time and their response to environmental factors and anthropogenic influences, their impact on ecosystem functioning, and the redefinition of functional groups based on traits. The consortium invites researchers worldwide to contribute to this endeavor and encourages the resampling of study sites, to expand currently limited time series datasets. To facilitate data collection, standardized protocols and data templates are proposed, ensuring data quality and interoperability. Furthermore, the initiative intends to make use of citizen science in expanding observations and improving taxonomic coverage, highlighting platforms like iNaturalist for community engagement. Soil BON Earthworm seeks to unite global expertise and foster collaborative research to address critical gaps in understanding earthworm ecology and its implications for ecosystems at a global scale.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)47-60
JournalSoil Organisms
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 01 Apr 2024


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