Predicting the effects of climate change on C sequestration by heathlands: the role of multi-trophic interactions between soil organisms (Research)
Accumulation of CO2 in the atmosphere is causing worldwide climate changes. This can be mitigated in two ways: reducing CO2 emissions, and "trapping" some CO2 by using the properties of plants to fix it into their biomass. The harder the plant biomass is to decompose, the longer the CO2 is fixed. Heathland is a very interesting ecosystem from this point of view, because the plants there produce a very recalcitrant biomass. The rate at which it is decomposed back into CO2 depends on the activity of soil organisms, which can be divided in two categories: the symbiotic fungi, who improve C sequestration, and the non-symbiotic fungi and microfauna who have the opposite effect. The way the communities of these organisms interact and affect each other's activity therefore regulates C sequestration in these soils. However, surprisingly little is known on these interactions: what is their outcome, how they influence C sequestration, and how they are themselves affected by environmental factors, and, hence, by climate change. We propose here to model the interactions between the main heathland soil organisms and how does it lead to C sequestration; and to predict how climate change will affect these interactions, and consequently C sequestration.
Period of project
01 October 2015 - 30 September 2019