New knowledge on soil structure highlights its importance for hydrology and soil organic matter (SOM) stabilization, which however remains neglected in many wide used models. We present here a new model, KEYLINK, in which soil structure is integrated with the existing concepts on SOM pools, and elements from food web models, that is, those from direct trophic interactions among soil organisms. KEYLINK is, therefore, an attempt to integrate soil functional diversity and food webs in predictions of soil carbon (C) and soil water balances. We present a selection of equations that can be used for most models as well as basic parameter intervals, for example, key pools, functional groups' biomasses and growth rates. Parameter distributions can be determined with Bayesian calibration, and here an example is presented for food web growth rate parameters for a pine forest in Belgium. We show how these added equations can improve the functioning of the model in describing known phenomena. For this, five test cases are given as simulation examples: changing the input litter quality (recalcitrance and carbon to nitrogen ratio), excluding predators, increasing pH and changing initial soil porosity. These results overall show how KEYLINK is able to simulate the known effects of these parameters and can simulate the linked effects of biopore formation, hydrology and aggregation on soil functioning. Furthermore, the results show an important trophic cascade effect of predation on the complete C cycle with repercussions on the soil structure as ecosystem engineers are predated, and on SOM turnover when predation on fungivore and bacterivore populations are reduced. In summary, KEYLINK shows how soil functional diversity and trophic organization and their role in C and water cycling in soils should be considered in order to improve our predictions on C sequestration and C emissions from soils.
Thematic List 2020
- Soil & air