Soils host approximately 50% of the biomass and a major part of the diversity of animals on land. However, large-scale data that link soil animal diversity with ecosystem functions is limited to few regional studies, hampering our understanding of soil animal contribution to global biogeochemistry. Besides, global abiotic and biotic drivers and assembly processes in soil animal communities and food webs have not been comprehensively assessed. The SBF Team is an international initiative that addresses these gaps by a novel standardised global assessment of soil animal communities across micro-, meso-, and macrofauna.

By sampling Soil BON sites ( Soil BON web page, Core Soil BON paper), this initiative is the first to link soil animal communities across the size spectrum to a range of soil functions worldwide.


  1. To deliver open, comprehensive, and globally representative methods and harmonised datasets on soil micro-, meso-, and macrofauna in conjunction with soil functions.
  2. To explore effects of climate, land use, and other environmental variables on soil animal communities, soil food web structure, and resistance.
  3. To assess the efficiency of current nature conservation approaches in protecting soil animal communities.
  4. To relate soil animal communities and food webs with soil functioning across climates, soil and land use types.
  5. To establish a global soil fauna expert network for soil biodiversity monitoring and other collaborative projects.
  6. To reinforce local collaboration networks and local expertise in soil zoology.


This is a voluntary initiative that at present has no explicit funds and is supported by the research community. Although right now we cannot pay directly to researchers around the world, the Team joins and openly shares various expertises and may supply some basic equipment for groups with limited resources. The coordination team of the initiative includes soil ecologists from 25+ countries covering all continents including underrepresented regions such as Asia, South America and Africa (Fig. 1).

We intend to conduct the first global sampling campaign in 2022-2023. In total 200+ sampling sites will be comprehensively assessed globally by many local Field teams, each sampling a few locations. To support data harmonisation, we developed common sampling and data collection protocols. The campaign is planned to be repeated in 2025-2026 in the framework of the global soil biodiversity monitoring (Soil BON). Jointly, we will be able to produce unprecedented data to address exciting and challenging questions and establish a global collaboration network for soil animal diversity monitoring and future joint work.

Fig. 1 | The Soil BON Foodweb Team concept. Effects of climate, land use and conservation on soil functions are mediated by soil properties, microbes, and animals; the latter are assessed by the Team (a). At present, research groups from >80 countries are officially involved in Soil BON (black); the Coordination team of the Soil BON Foodweb Team (SBF, blue) covers all major continents (b). National-level SBF networks are coordinated by SBF National coordinators and may also include core Soil BON teams (c).

Join the SBF global collaboration network 


We are welcoming participation in the following roles:

National coordinator

  1. Engage Field teams and Local hubs in your country
  2. Organise sampling campaigns by coordinating Field teams and Local hubs
  3. Communicate with Soil BON and partake in decision making
  4. Lead global synthesis studies 

Local hub of dry extraction

  1. Extract microarthropods from soil samples with Berlese or similar devices
  2. Image mixed microarthropod and macrofauna communities
  3. Store animal samples
  4. Partake in national-level sampling coordination
  5. Lead national/regional synthesis studies

Local hub of wet extraction

  1. Extract nematodes and enchytraeids from soil samples with wet extractor
  2. Image mixed nematode and enchytraeid communities
  3. Store animal samples
  4. Partake in national-level sampling coordination
  5. Lead national/regional synthesis studies

Field team

  1. Sample 2+ sites in your region (take soil cores, hand-sort macrofauna) 
  2. Transport soil and animal samples to the Local hubs

The roles are non-exclusive and can be combined.

All roles imply co-authorships in joint publications and a possibility to participate in workshops and conferences. 

How to join?

  1. Contact the National coordinator(s) in your country to express your interest
  2. If your country does not have yet a National coordinator, contact the coordination team (Dr. Anton Potapov, University of Goettingen)

For participation in the 2022-2023 sampling campaign please, contact us until 31.08.2022. Additional participants are welcome to join us for the 2025-2026 sampling campaign.

Our call paper with all details can be found here


View the Soil BON Foodweb Team and other Soil BON publications here.

View Publications


This is truly a ‘community initiative’ that joins soil zoologists and ecologists around the world.

Get In Touch With Us Here