Understanding soil erosion impacts in temperate agroecosystems: bridging the gap between geomorphology and soil ecology using nematodes as a model organism
Soil is a key asset of natural capital, providing a myriad of goods and ecosystem services that sustain life through regulating, supporting and provisioning roles, delivered by chemical, physical and biological processes. One of the greatest threats to soil is accelerated erosion, which raises a natural process to unsustainable levels, and has downstream consequences (e.g.~economic, environmental and social). Global intensification of agroecosystems is a recognised major cause of soil erosion which, in light of predicted population growth and increased demand for food security, will continue or increase. Transport and redistribution of biota by soil erosion has hitherto been ignored and thus is poorly understood. With the move to sustainable intensification this is a key knowledge gap that needs to be addressed. Here we highlight the erosion-energy and effective-erosion-depth continuum in soils, differentiating between different forms of soil erosion, and argue that nematodes are an appropriate model taxa to investigate impacts of erosion on soil biota across scales. We review the different known mechanisms of soil erosion that impact on soil biota in general, and nematodes in particular, and highlight the few detailed studies, primarily from tropical regions, that have considered soil biota. Based on the limited literature and using nematodes as a model organism we outline future research priorities to initially address the important interrelationships between soil erosion processes and soil biota.