Citizen Science

Soil Biological Quality Observatory (QUBS), observe the biodiversity of the soil

What exactly do we know about soils? The answer is not much...and yet it is a living system, with very delicate rules of operation and evolution, which varies depending on a wide range of natural and human factors. Though vital, the detailed study of soil properties is therefore very complex for researchers. Join the citizen science program that comes to their aid: the Soil Biological Quality Observatory (QUBS).

Life beneath your feet

Concern for the fate of earthworms or wood lice may appear to be of secondary importance at a time when birds, bees and butterflies are in danger. Yet this biodiversity provides important services: soil fertility, biomass production, carbon and water storage, water purification, regulation of pest species, prevention of erosion, etc. However, the subterranean world is the victim of multiple aggressions due to climate change, land artificialisation, etc. This is where you come in, as data on these hidden and little-known ecosystems is scarce.

Insect with an iridescent, blue and green shell.

Ground beetle (Drypta dentata)

© N. Henon
Brown and black striped Centipede with yellow legs.

Centipede (Scolopendra cingulata)

© W. Perrin
Arachnid with front pincers like a scorpion, but no tail.


© N. Henon
Long brown insect rolled in a spiral on itself.

Millipede (Julidae)

© W. Perrin
A group of black ants.

Messor capitatus ants

© N. Henon
Insect with an elongated brown body, with large front legs.

A species of bristetail (Machilidae)

© N. Henon

Several protocols

Participating in the Soil Biological Quality Observatory is a scientific adventure that anyone with access to a garden can get involved in. This project will provide researchers with large-scale data for the first time.

In concrete terms, several protocols are provided so as to scan all the different layers of the soil, each of which harbours its own specific biodiversity. Are surface species your favourites? Take a beaker, put it in the soil for one night, and count the organisms collected: insects, crustaceans, worms, myriapods. For daytime insects, make an insect hoover and go hunting in a 25 cm square. Or are you more into subterranean critters?

"Opération Escargots" (Operation Snails) offers you the opportunity to monitor the snails in your garden. Soon will also be available a protocol on earthworms as well as another one that helps evaluate the degradation of organic matter.

Your contribution to this citizen science program will enlighten researchers on the distribution of species, and allow them to measure the relative abundance of different groups in space and time. This will lead to a better understanding of the links between soil fauna and everything that happens in the garden.

To participate, go to the QUBS website

To participate

If you wish to register to QUBS, the Observatory of the Biological Quality of Soils, go to the dedicated website.

QUBs website

The QUBS program is led by the Université Paul Valéry de Montpellier, in partnership with Sorbonne Université, l'Université de Lorraine and Plantes et Cités.