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Review article - Peer-reviewed, 2020

KEYLINK: towards a more integrative soil representation for inclusion in ecosystem scale models. I. review and model concept

Deckmyn, Gaby; Flores, Omar; Mayer, Mathias; Domene, Xavier; Schnepf, Andrea; Kuka, Katrin; Van Looy, Kris; Rasse, Daniel P.; Briones, Maria J., I; Barot, Sebastien; Berg, Matty; Vanguelova, Elena; Ostonen, Ivika; Vereecken, Harry; Suz, Laura M.; Frey, Beat; Frossard, Aline; Tiunov, Alexei; Frouz, Jan; Grebenc, Tine;
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The relatively poor simulation of the below-ground processes is a severe drawback for many ecosystem models, especially when predicting responses to climate change and management. For a meaningful estimation of ecosystem production and the cycling of water, energy, nutrients and carbon, the integration of soil processes and the exchanges at the surface is crucial. It is increasingly recognized that soil biota play an important role in soil organic carbon and nutrient cycling, shaping soil structure and hydrological properties through their activity, and in water and nutrient uptake by plants through mycorrhizal processes. In this article, we review the main soil biological actors (microbiota, fauna and roots) and their effects on soil functioning. We review to what extent they have been included in soil models and propose which of them could be included in ecosystem models. We show that the model representation of the soil food web, the impact of soil ecosystem engineers on soil structure and the related effects on hydrology and soil organic matter (SOM) stabilization are key issues in improving ecosystem-scale soil representation in models. Finally, we describe a new core model concept (KEYLINK) that integrates insights from SOM models, structural models and food web models to simulate the living soil at an ecosystem scale.


Soil fauna; Model; Soil organic matter (SOM); Hydrology; Pore size distribution (PSD); Soil biota; Ecosystem

Published in

2020, volume: 8, article number: e9750
Publisher: PEERJ INC

Authors' information

Deckmyn, Gaby
University of Antwerp
Flores, Omar
University of Antwerp
Mayer, Mathias
University of Bodenkultur Wien
Domene, Xavier
Centro de Investigacion Ecologica y Aplicaciones Forestales (CREAF)
Schnepf, Andrea
Helmholtz Association
Kuka, Katrin
Julius Kühn Institute (JKI)
Van Looy, Kris
Rasse, Daniel P.
Norwegian Institute of Bioeconomy Research (NIBIO)
Briones, Maria J.
Universidade de Vigo
Barot, Sebastien
Universite de Paris
Vanguelova, Elena
Forest Research
Berg, Matty
Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
Ostonen, Ivika
University of Tartu
Vereecken, Harry
Helmholtz Association
Suz, Laura M.
Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
Frey, Beat
Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research
Frossard, Aline
Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research
Tiunov, Alexei
Russian Academy of Sciences
Frouz, Jan
Charles University Prague
Grebenc, Tine
Slovenian Forestry Institute
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Associated SLU-program

SLU Network Plant Protection

Sustainable Development Goals

SDG15 Life on land

UKÄ Subject classification

Soil Science

Publication Identifiers


URI (permanent link to this page)