Soil Biodiversity Assessment in Nepal

Roshan B. Ojha
Roshan B. Ojha
Nepal
project abstract

Nepal is a country with abrupt elevation gradient, ranges from 50 to 8848 meters above sea level, towards the North resulting in contrasting climate and habitat formation. This change in elevation and climate allows diverse habitat formation and floral and faunal diversity vary greatly across the regions. Furthermore, In the East-west gradient, the precipitation patterns greatly vary in the country. In the monsoon season (June-Aug), heavy precipitation occurs in the Eastern regions and the western region receives less rainfall. In the winter season, the Western region receives more rainfall than the Eastern region. However, the total rainfall in the winter season is lesser than monsoon season. This creates a different soil moisture regime in East-West regions. Therefore, elevation and climate gradient towards the North and precipitation gradient towards East-West make Nepal rich in floral and faunal (aboveground) biodiversity hotspots, however, soil (belowground) biodiversity hotspots are yet to be determined. We assume the change in elevation gradient and habitat types altered the soil biodiversity. Soil sampling across elevation, climate, and precipitation gradient will help us to elucidate the diverse soil flora and faunal diversity. We will also have an opportunity to understand and assess the soil biodiversity in higher elevation zones, which is unique to Nepalese landscapes. Currently, we are collecting soil samples (voluntarily) from each of the physiographic areas. We only have three paired sites for this assessment. We followed the Soil Biodiversity Network (SoilBON) protocols to collect, prepare, store, and ship the samples. These sites broadly cover the soil biodiversity status of Nepal but are limited to covering all habitat types towards North-South and East-West regions. Therefore, we would like to extend our sampling sites from 3-paired sites to additional 18-paired sites and the results will contribute directly to the sample pool of SoilBON.