S. Franz Bender

Soils harbor enormous biodiversity. We are just beginning to understand how soil organisms and their diversity contribute to the functioning of ecosystems. Moreover, evidence is increasing that human soil management can have adverse effects on soil biological communities and, potentially, also the functions they provide.

My research focusses on disentangling the complex relationships between agricultural management, soil biological communities and ecosystem functions. I’m especially interested in identifying ways to integrate soil biologically provided ecosystem services into agricultural management schemes, an approach termed ‘Soil Ecological Engineering’.

I use a combination of field and greenhouse experimentation to understand the functional potential of the different members of soil biological communities and to assess how these functional implications change under different management systems.

While my research covers a range of different soil organisms, I particularly focus on plant symbiotic arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi, their interactions with the wider soil food web and how these affect nutrient use efficiency and crop nutrition in agricultural systems.

Franz’s Google Scholar profile