The Atlas of Mexico’s Soil Biodiversity

Roberto Garibay-Orijel
Roberto Garibay-Orijel
project abstract

This is an interdisciplinary nationwide project with more than 30 scientists from UNAM (National Autonomous University of Mexico). It is part of the University Program of Interdisciplinary Soil Studies (PUEIS) Developed primarily at the Institute of Biology, Institute of Ecology, Faculty of Sciences, and Faculty of Higher Education of Iztacala.

The soil constitutes the ecological interface that harbors the greatest biodiversity in terrestrial ecosystems. Soil regulates global biogeochemical cycles, supports biological diversity, activity, and productivity, and provides the nutrients necessary for plant growth. A conserved soil is a biodiverse soil maintaining ecological functions such as microbial activity, carbon and nitrogen mineralization, and enzymatic activity. Despite the importance of soil this resource is not renewable, and its conservation is threatened by mismanagement and the lack of effective communication strategies about it. In Mexico, 45% of the territory has degraded soils, which means that they have lost the ability to maintain their ecological function, their biodiversity, and their productivity. Part of the problem is the lack of data and information on biodiversity and soil function in large geographic areas of Mexico to strengthen decision-making aimed at its sustainable management.

The Atlas of Mexico’s Soil Biodiversity have three guiding principles (Research, Teaching and Society Outreach), each with the following objective. Research – To generate frontier knowledge using public biodiversity databases, collaboration networks and the most modern DNA sequencing technologies to produce the greatest possible amount of knowledge in the shortest time and at the lowest cost. Teaching – To generate learning elements for high school, undergraduate and postgraduate levels to promote knowledge of life in Mexican soils and the need to protect this non-renewable resource. Outreach – To create an interface for data display and analysis to provide information to decision makers that promote friendly management practices with soil diversity, as well as programs for its conservation and monitoring.