Jörg Römbke, ECT Oekotoxikologie; Kees van Gestel, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam; Liesje Mommer, Netherlands Institute of Ecology and Wageningen University; Silvia Pieper, Federal Environment Agency Germany; Mike Coulson, ERM; and Luca Montanarella, Joint Research Centre, European Commission

The SETAC Europe 14th Special Science Symposium (SESSS) titled “Soil Biodiversity” will be held from 19–20 November 2019 at the Marivaux Hotel in Brussels, Belgium.

Protecting the structure and functioning of soil ecosystems is one of the central aims of current regulations on chemicals in soil. As an example, it is shown by the emphasis on protection of key drivers and ecosystem services as proposed protection goal options by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). Safeguarding soil biodiversity is key to protecting ecosystem services. This requires insight into soil biodiversity, its role in the functioning of ecosystems, and the way it responds to stress.

During the last decade, a wealth of scientific data has been gathered on soil biodiversity, the composition of soil ecosystems, the interactions between above- and below-ground parts of the soil ecosystem, the interactions between different organisms in the soil food web, and their role in different ecological processes. In addition, novel approaches have focused on assessing how soil ecosystems respond to chemical and non-chemical stressors. The measurement and the assessment of soil invertebrate biodiversity under stress has often been hampered by the lack of experienced taxonomists. New DNA-based species determination (barcoding, eDNA, metagenomics, etc.) has improved the situation considerably, facilitating novel experimental approaches and deepening our understanding of the relationship between ecosystem structure and functioning. The detailed and comprehensive information on soil biodiversity facilitates the use of modeling approaches, such as population modeling and recovery, among others.

The central aim of this SESSS is providing the audience with information on soil biodiversity and soil functions (i.e., protection goal options) as well as the effects of chemicals and other stressors (including their respective regulations).

During this SESSS, a comprehensive state-of the art overview of the current scientific knowledge on soil biodiversity will be presented, followed by the discussion of novel methods for assessing biodiversity in soils at different spatial scales. Attention will be given to regional and spatial differences in soil biodiversity, its relationships to soil properties and land uses. Soil biodiversity will be discussed in relation to different stressors. Available modeling approaches for predicting consequences of effects on soil biodiversity for ecosystem services will be introduced. Two case studies will be presented to describe the effects of chemical stress on soil biodiversity, using examples from pesticide regulation and contaminated land assessment. The role and position of soil biodiversity in regulatory frameworks, such as pesticide and biocide regulation, will be discussed, allowing representatives from government and industry to provide their views on the effective assessment and management of soil biodiversity.

The symposium will consist of presentations by experts in soil ecology and ecotoxicology on novel scientific developments, on experimental and modeling approaches, as well as case studies, with the aim to discuss how these approaches could inform future risk assessment of chemicals and other stressors in the regulatory context of protecting soil ecosystems. Besides lectures, the symposium will include a poster session and discussion rounds. A full program can be obtained from the website.

Upcoming Deadlines

Abstract submission: 25 September 2019

Early bird registration: 16 October 2019

Authors’ contact information: j-roembke@ect.de and kees.van.gestel@vu.nl

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