The CreBeo Soil Biodiversity Project

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Resource or Project Abstract

European and national policy developments on soil protection and conservation of biological diversity (biodiversity) have exposed knowledge gaps that need to be addressed by research. Soils are among the most biodiverse ecosystems on earth and, in turn, many ecosystem services provided by soils (such as nutrient cycling, waste degradation, pest and disease suppression, carbon storage) depend on the activity of these diverse organisms. However, systematic and specific information is limited on the organisms that live in Irish soils, their response to environmental pressures and their roles in soil processes. The project had four specific scientific objectives: 1. To provide baseline data on the distribution and diversity of a range of important soil organisms in major land uses and soil types in Ireland; 2. To establish the need for protecting specific habitats where soil-dwelling ant species occur; 3. To investigate under field conditions the response of important organisms to pressures caused by land-spreading of organic waste materials; and 4. To conduct innovative ecological experiments that examined the link between biodiversity and functions in soils. The recommendations for soil biological monitoring in Ireland include: = To revise and differentiate more land-use classes; =To identify benchmark sites; =To use a tiered structure of core and specific indicators; =To include measurements of soil processes; =To establish a working group to oversee the development of a monitoring scheme; and =Relating to pressures on and functions of soil organisms, further research should be conducted on the long-term effects of biosolids on soil biota, and the relationships between temperate ants and microbes. By increasing the scientific knowledge and research capability in soil biodiversity in Ireland, this project has: = Informed sustainable soil protection strategies; and =Enhanced our understanding of biological diversity in Irish soils, a priority under the National Biodiversity Plan. Full technical details of this project, including method descriptions, statistical analyses, results and a comprehensive list of references, are contained in the Final Technical Report (Downloadable from SAFER).

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Contact Information for This Resource

Dr. Olaf Schmidt
University College Dublin

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Data, Files, Information Objects Related To This Project Resource

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Attachment Name and Download Link
Offline Print Quality Version    STRIVE_67_Schmidt_CreBeo_prn.pdf  (1.57 Mb)
Project Report Optimised For Online Viewing    STRIVE_67_Schmidt_CreBeo_web.pdf  (1.91 Mb)
Att 3    CreBeo_Final_Report.pdf   (13.06 Mb)

Suggested Citation Information

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Author(s)Schmidt, O.
Title Of WebsiteSecure Archive For Environmental Research Data
Publication InformationThe CreBeo Soil Biodiversity Project
Name of OrganisationEnvironmental Protection Agency Ireland
Electronic Address or URL
Unique Identifier3d9f81e9-6199-102f-8c70-b53a025bc1b8
Date of AccessLast Updated on SAFER: 2024-07-14

An example of this citation in proper usage:

Schmidt, O.   "The CreBeo Soil Biodiversity Project". Associated datasets and digitial information objects connected to this resource are available at: Secure Archive For Environmental Research Data (SAFER) managed by Environmental Protection Agency Ireland (Last Accessed: 2024-07-14)


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Access Information For This Resource

SAFER-Data Display URL
Resource KeywordsBaseline Data, Response to Pressures, Functions and
EPA/ERTDI/STRIVE Project Code2005-S-LS-8
EPA/ERTDI/STRIVE Project ThemeBiodiversity
Resource Availability: Any User Can Download Files From This Resource
Limitations on the use of this ResourceAny attached datasets, data files, or information objects can be downloaded for further use in scientific applications under the condition that the source is properly quoted and cited in published papers, journals, websites, presentations, books, etc. Before downloading, users must agree to the "Conditions of Download and Access" from SAFER-Data. These appear before download. Users of the data should also communicate with the original authors/owners of this resource if they are uncertain about any aspect of the data or information provided before further usage.
Number of Attached Files (Publicly and Openly Available for Download): 3
Project Start Date Saturday 1st January 2005 (01-01-2005)
Earliest Recorded Date within any attached datasets or digital objects Saturday 1st January 2005 (01-01-2005)
Most Recent Recorded Date within any attached datasets or digital objects Saturday 1st October 2011 (01-10-2011)
Published on SAFERWednesday 16th November 2011 (16-11-2011)
Date of Last EditMonday 6th February 2012 at 12:12:37 (06-02-2012)
Datasets or Files Updated On Monday 6th February 2012 at 12:12:37 (06-02-2012)

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Geographical and Spatial Information Related To This Resource

Description of Geographical Characteristics of This Project or Dataset
A protocol was developed for the selection of a subset of the NSD sites based on a number of criteria, including the inclusion of major vegetation/land-use classes and soil types in proportion to their known frequency in Ireland and geographical spread. The sites selected by this protocol were also used by a sister project, the Soil-C project, examining carbon stocks in Irish soils (Kiely et al., 2009). In total, 61 sites were sampled during the soil biodiversity baseline survey. Fifty-two of the sites were sampled from late summer to autumn in 2006, and a further nine were sampled in autumn 2007. These included arable (n = 14), pasture (n = 21), forest (n = 10, five each of coniferous plantation and broadleaved forest), rough grazing (n = 8) and bog (n = 8) land-use classes. In addition, 12 of those sites sampled in 2006 were re-sampled in 2007 to examine temporal variability. This repeat sampling included three sites each of the arable, pasture, forest and bog land-use classes. The major Irish soil types included were: acid brown earths (n = 10), shallow brown earths (n = 3), brown podzolics (n = 9), grey-brown podzolics (n = 10), podzolics (n = 3), gleys (n = 10), lithosols (n = 3) and peats (n = 13). This resulted in 20 land-use × soil-type combinations, 13 of which were replicated over at least three sites

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Supplementary Information About This Resource

In this section some supplementary information about this resource is outlined. Lineage information helps us to understand why this project was carried out, what policy or research requirements did it fulfil, etc. Lineage is important in understanding the rationale behind the carrying out of a project or the collection of a specific dataset etc. Links to web sites, applications, papers, etc are outlined to provide you with additional information or supplementary reading about the project or dataset

Lineage information about this project or dataset
Given its size, Ireland has a distinguished record of internationally recognised research on the distribution, taxonomy and biology of certain soil organisms (Bolger et al., 2002), for example micro-arthropods, springtails, enchytraeid and lumbricid worms, and plant pests and pathogens. However, Ireland never had a sustained, systematic or large-scale multidisciplinary research programme in soil biology comparable with those undertaken in other countries such as New Zealand (Sparling et al., 2002), Canada (Fox et al., 2003), France (Ranjard et al., 2010), Germany (Emmerling et al., 2002), the Netherlands (Rutgers et al., 2009) or the UK (Loveland and Thompson, 2002; Black et al., 2005; Fitter et al., 2005; Aalders et al., 2009). In particular, Ireland lacks baseline data for significant numbers and groups of organisms in a wide range of soils (NBDC, 2010). This project tackled at least two areas in which significant scientific knowledge gaps exist in Ireland, namely soil protection and soil biodiversity. The project enhanced knowledge and understanding of the biodiversity in Irish soils, a research priority under the National Biodiversity Plan (Anonymous, 2002). The project also contributed to the development of a soil protection strategy which urgently requires information on biological properties of Irish soils (Brogan et al., 2002; Brogan, 2008).
Supplementary Information
Full list of Authors
Olaf Schmidt, Aidan M. Keith, Julio Arroyo, Tom Bolger, Bas Boots, John Breen,
Nicholas Clipson, Fiona M. Doohan, Christine T. Griffin, Christina Hazard and Robin Niechoj

All earthworm records have been entered into the Earthworms of Ireland database by A.M. Keith (University College Dublin and Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, Lancaster), which contains published and unpublished earthworm species records, including this survey. This database has been submitted to the National Biodiversity Data Centre, Waterford, and is available via the online biodiversity database and mapping tool (see
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