Soil is the final frontier. We know more about the outer space and the deep ocean than the soil, while soil provides irreplaceable ecosystem services that our lives depend on, food, water filtration, just name a few. Inhabited by one-fourth of all know species, soil is the poor man’s tropical rain forest. A handful of soil can contain hundreds of species of microscopic invertebrates - mites, nematodes, and springtails. Some larger soil animals, such as earthworms, are considered ecosystem engineers, and are frequently the dominant biomass in many tropical and temperate ecosystems. The complex interactions among soil fauna, plant roots, and micro-organisms determine the fate of soil carbon and the availability of nutrients. These effects propagate in both the aboveground and belowground ecosystems, and eventually affect the ecosystem services provided.
Our group's overarching research interest is to understand the diversity of soil fauna at multiple temporal and spatial scales, the complex interactions of belowground and aboveground communities, and the effects of these interactions on ecosystem functions. We are especially interested in
(1) biodiversity of soil fauna;
(2) interspecific competition and facilitation, and their roles in shaping soil animal communities;
(3) stable isotope ecology and community ecology of earthworms;
(4) the roles of soil organisms in biogeochemical processes;
(5) the aboveground-belowground linkages through microbes and plants;
(6) the effects of these processes on ecosystem functions under various scenarios of land use, species invasion, and global change;
(7) earthworm phylogenetics, biogeography, systematics and taxonomy;
(8) Environmental DNA metagenomics.