Unravelling the role of animals in African soil ecology

This consortium of researchers based in Gabon, South Africa, Ghana and the UK is researching to what extent African soils are created and maintained by animals.

Lay summary

This project aims to explore the importance of animals in soil structure and function in Africa. 

It will investigate the effect of increasing transformation of habitats and the associated loss of fauna has on ecosystem functioning. It will determine how the loss of tropical soil insects and large herbivores affects soil structure and composition, as well as key ecosystem processes, and explore possibilities for soil restoration in degraded areas.

Proposed benefits to researchers and institutions

  • The link between soil biodiversity and ecosystem functions and services will be examined
  • Training of staff, improved capacity in equipment and skills, and research funding for institutions and research groups
  • Development of restoration techniques to improve soil health and ecosystem functioning
  • Training and mentoring highly skilled PhD students will help institutions build their scientific profile
  • Potential for collaborations to extend beyond the scope of the project

Proposed benefits of research to society

  • Understanding the value of soil biodiversity is key for sustainable land use and improving livelihoods in Africa
  • Local land-owners will gain an improved understanding of the role of animals in soil health and ecosystem functioning, as well as the development of methods to restore soil function in degraded areas
  • Improved understanding of how changes in biodiversity may affect ecosystem functioning
  • Strengthened case for the conservation of species by providing data to show their functional value