Major threats to soil ecosystems from a combination of invasive species and climate change

A study examining heat tolerance in alien and indigenous springtails, key soil arthropods that effect many aspects of ecosystem functioning, finds that tolerance of warming, such as that associated with climate change, is on average much more pronounced in the alien species than their indigenous counterparts, with little scope for adjustment by evolutionary change or phenotypic plasticity, suggesting that the impacts of biological invasions on soil systems will be exacerbated by climate change.

Read the full article here 


Gesonde grond, groter wins


In the first of a three-series article in the widely read Landbou Weekblad, SERG members Charlene Janion-Scheepers and Schalk Louw discuss the importance of soil biodiversity in agriculture.


Link here for Landbou Weekblad online 



Southern Africa’s subterranean skinks. More colourful that you’d think…

by John Measey

You might think that life underground would be quite dull. Animals in a series of browns, greys or even individuals without pigment would be expected in this dark habitat. However, South Africa’s subterranean skinks break the rule in spectacular technicolour.

Read the full article here…



Pseudoscorpions: Cryptic Predators of the Soil 

Female Horus obscurus (Tullgren, 1907) within her nest constructed of soil particles and silk.
(Photo: J.A. Neethling)

by Jan A. Neethling

Pre-Devonian in origin, the Pseudoscorpiones are one of the oldest extant lineages and over the past 392 Ma have diverged into more than 3400 known species in 26 families.

Most are less than five millimetres in length, though they range from less than one millimetre in some Chthoniidae to just over ten millimetres in females of Garypus titanius Beier, 1961. They superficially resemble true scorpions, but lack the elongated metasoma (tail) and telson (sting). They do, however, share the six-segmented pedipalps, with the tibia and tarsus modified into a chela with a movable finger.

Read the full article here ……….



Porosphere soil from a wheat field, western
Free State province, South Africa.

The choice of agricultural landscape has an influence on crop (and soil) health.


Agricultural landscapes are by implication complex adaptive systems, tailored by anthropogenic interference. The relationship between structure and function, e.g. trophic structures, diversity – productivity connections and nutrient fluctuation patterns of such landscapes is fundamental in their organization, whether self-driven or regulated.

Read more here –

What lies beneath: South Africa’s megadiversity of soil biota

Following the the publication by Janion-Scheepers et al., SERG was invited to write a series of blogs about South Africa’s soil biodiversity that featured on the Global Soil Biodiversity Initiative’s (GSBI) widely read blog, “Beneath our Feet”.

You can read our blogs here:

What lies beneath: South Africa’s megadiversity of soil biota Part I: What is SERG? – Read more 

What lies beneath: South Africa’s megadiversity of soil biota Part II: SA Soil Biodiversity – Read More 

What lies beneath: South Africa’s megadiversity of soil biota Part III: Threats, conservation and future research directions – Read More 

Pedobiologia-cover-SoilSoil biota in a megadiverse country: current knowledge and future research directions in South Africa.

Janion-Scheepers, C., Measey, J., Braschler, B., Chown, S.L., Coetzee, L., Colville, J.F., Dames, J., Davies, A.B., Davies, S., Davis, A., Dippenaar-Schoeman, A.S., Duffy, G.A., Fourie, D., Griffiths, C., Haddad, C.R., Hamer, M., Herbert, D., Hugo-Coetzee, E.A., Jacobs, A., Jacobs,. K., Jansen van Rensburg, C., Lamani, S., Lotz, L.N., Louw, S.vdM., Lyle, R., Malan, A.P., Marais, M., Neethling, J.-A., Nxele, T., Plisko, D., Prendini, L., Rink, A.N., Swart, A., Theron, P., Truter, M., Ueckermann, E., Uys, V.M., Villet, M.H., Willows-Munrow, S. & Wilson, J.R. 2016. Soil biota in a megadiverse country: current knowledge and future research directions in South Africa. Pedobiologia 59, pp 129-174. Doi: 10.1016/j.pedobi.2016.03.004


Understanding soil health in South AfricaSouth African Journal of Science 110 cover

vdM Louw S, Wilson JRU, Janion C, Veldtman R, Davies SJ, Matthew Addison M (2014) The unknown underworld: understanding soil health in South Africa. South African Journal of Science 110, number 5/6, doi: 10.1590/ sajs.2014/a0064.