Integrating Soil Biodiversity into Ecosystem Services

Swiss Federal Research Institute WSL

The Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research WSL researches changes in the terrestrial environment and the use and protection of natural spaces and cultural landscapes. It monitors the condition and development of the forests, landscapes, biodiversity, natural hazards, and snow and ice. It also develops sustainable solutions for problems relevant to society – together with its partners from science and society. WSL has, from the start, been active in all regions in Switzerland. In 1888, the first experimental plots were set up across the country to learn more about tree growth and yield. Today, WSL maintains more than 6000 experimental and research plots, including large experimental stations for studying rock fall or debris flow, study areas for monitoring the effects of climate change on forests and sites damaged by storms or fires for investigating the impact of these natural hazards.

WSL is a research institute of the Swiss Confederation. It is part of the ETH Domain and employs approximately 600 people. In addition to the headquarters in Birmensdorf, near Zurich, and to the WSL Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research SLF in Davos, branch stations in Lausanne and Bellinzona (opened in 1991) and Sion (1996) generate local synergies and reach out to professionals. WSL is organised into Research Units, Research Programmes and Initiatives and Service and Support Units.

As part of an ETH Domain research institute, the Confederation requires the WSL to provide cutting-edge research and social benefits, particularly for Switzerland. One of the WSL´s important national functions is to conduct the Swiss National Forest Inventory (NFI) and long-term forest ecosystem monitoring (LWF). It is particularly active in applied research, but basic research is also among its duties. SLF employees develop tools and guidelines for authorities, industry and the public in order to offer them support in natural hazard risk management and the analysis of climatic and environmental changes. They also share their knowledge by teaching at domestic and foreign universities and training other professionals.

Role within SOB4ES

EFWSL will mainly contribute to WP2 of the SOB2ES project, i.e. the soil biodiversity analyses under various intensities of major EU land-use types. EFWSL will collect soil biodiversity data (T2.1). Field samples will be collected in Swiss sites according to the common consortium protocol (in different land-use types). EFWSL will extract soil fauna from the collected soil samples and send the extract and soil for further analyses to the dedicated consortium partners. EFWSL will also quantify a range of functional genes (such as those involved in C, N and P cycling) using a quantitative PCR technique. Furthermore, EFWSL will contribute to soil biodiversity analyses (T2.2) and help identifying drivers and pressures of soil biodiversity under land use changes using statistical analyses and machine learning (T2.3). To a limited extend, EFWSL will quantify the ecosystem performance in delivering ecosystem services (WP3), helping with the assessment of ecosystem services interactions, their spatial variations across EU regions and their impacts on the soil biodiversity (T3.2). EFWSL will also engage in interactive approaches (WP5), such as the application of ecological knowledge into practical applications for promoting soil biodiversity (T5.1) and help organizing citizen science contribution (T5.2). EFWSL will continuously deliver info for the long-term communication strategy, results exploitation, and data sharing (WP6).

Main contacts

Photo of Dr. Aline Frossard
Dr. Aline Frossard

Senior researcher

Photo of Dr. Beat Frey
Dr. Beat Frey

Group Leader, Senior scientist

Photo of Josaine Dingler
Josaine Dingler

Administration, Project Office