Universiteit Leiden

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Research project

Using soil inoculations for ecological restorations

How soil microbial composition impacts structure and composition of the aboveground plant and animal communities?

2019 - 2022
Chenguang Gao

Dunea Dune and Water Company 

Short abstract

Plant species differ greatly in how they interact with soil organisms and with which soil organisms, such as bacteria, fungi and other microbes, they interact. But can we influence plant communities and the associated animal communities by changing the soil microbial profile?

Project description

Dunes represent a mosaic of ecosystems at distinct successional stages – primary dunes, grasslands, and ultimately forest. This mosaic of landscapes is what makes dunes attractive for tourists and what allows high biodiversity to sustain – i.e. the diversity of living organisms is supported by a mosaic of habitats.

In our research we introduce different soil communities in the same, previously degraded, dune area, and examine if and how the directions of ecosystem development in these degraded soils will be dependent on the type of soil microorganism additions.

While our research has a fundamental scientific character, it has important practical applications. Restoration of nature in degraded areas is difficult. Manipulating plant community is often not enough for such aims. Outcomes of our research will provide practical solutions for the use of soil in ecosystem restoration.  This knowledge will allow us to efficiently protect biodiversity of organisms and landscapes in dunes. 

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