Soil Census

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The soil is a very important habitat and not just for humans and other mammals, according to a new study.

Scientists have discovered that more than half of Earth’s species live underground and rely on soil for one or more stages of their life, Scientific American reported.

A research team compiled existing global estimates of overall species richness and soil biodiversity for the most populous groups of life, including bacteria, insects and mammals.

Co-author Mark Anthony and his team explained that this was a challenging task because there is still a lot scientists don’t know about these species.

In their findings, about 59 percent of species need soil to survive, more than double the amount originally thought.

Their findings showed that the highest proportion of soil reliance – almost 97 percent – was in potworms, a small relative of earthworms that spends most of its life cycle underground.

The species that relied the least were mammals of which about four percent rely on soil for one or more stages of their life.

Meanwhile, plants and other life groups lie along this spectrum. While numerous plant species thrive in the soil, species such as air plants flourish on trees and are removed from the ground.

Anthony believes that the percentage of livings things relying on soil will be higher as scientists learn more about the species living there.

“I’m thinking of this a lot like a census,” he said. “Hopefully we can use the results of this to allocate more energy toward conservation and restoration in soils because we’re really not doing that at the moment.”

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