University of Minnesota
College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences
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Department of Soil, Water, and Climate

Larson Allmaras Lecture


Twelfth Annual William E. Larson and Raymond R. Allmaras
Emerging Issues in Soil and Water Lectures
April 10, 2014
2:00-4:30 PM
335 Borlaug Hall


"Soil Biodiversity, Ecosystem Services and Global Environmental Challenges

SWAC - Diana Wall - Larson Allmaras lecture

Dr. Diana H. Wall
University Distinguished Professor & Professor of Biology
Director, School of Global Environmental Sustainability
Colorado State University
Fort Collins, CO

Dr. Diana Wall is a preeminent global authority on the structure and function of soil ecosystems, the services that these ecosystems provide, and the potential effects human activities have on the ability of soils to deliver these services. Much of her work has focused on nematode ecology in soil communities in hot deserts of the Southwestern United States and cold dry valleys of Antarctica. In addition to her seminal work in Antarctica, Dr. Wall and her collaborators and students have studied soil ecology and biodiversity on all seven continents and in most major habitats, including deserts, forests, grasslands, agroecosystems, and cities. Dr. Wall has received numerous awards and honors. Among those includes a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Ecological Society of America, and the Society of Nematology; a Fellow of the Aldo Leopold Leadership Program where she now serves on its Advisory Board; and an Honorary Doctorate degree from the Utrecht University, The Netherlands. Wall Valley in Antarctica was so named in recognition of Dr. Wall’s work in the continent’s Dry Valleys. In 2013, she was awarded the prestigious Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement.

Soil biodiversity is key to the maintenance of soil resources and plant production, but is usually overlooked in global policies addressing desertification, food security, climate change and loss of biodiversity. This is despite the diversity of roles played by the numerous and abundant species of soil microbes and invertebrates that are necessary for sustaining earth’s capacity to provide critical ecosystem services. Society benefits from soil biodiversity include erosion control, nutrient cycling, clean water and air, fertile soils, reduced greenhouse gases and pest and pathogen control. An example of research from Antarctic extreme soil habitats provides evidence for the factors that determine diversity, abundance, and function of soil biodiversity on larger scales and the responses of biota to climate change. Our challenge is to incorporate these and other findings derived from tried and new technologies and move the benefits of soil biodiversity to a more prominent position in policy and management.


SWAC-emerging issues brochure

William E. Larson
Raymond R. Allmaras
Lecture Series

Among the principal concerns for the 21st century are food security, global sustainability of natural resources, and healthy environment. Soil and water sciences play a critical role in addressing these concerns. This lecture series provides a forum to explore emerging issues, to inspire creative thinking, and to recognize excellence in the broad area of agricultural research with specific emphasis on soil and water.

Program Issues

Past Lectures

2003 Dr. Rattan Lal

2004 Dr. R. Eugene Turner

2005 Dr. R. Wayne Skaggs

2006 Dr. Bruce E. Dale
        Dr. Richard M Cruse

2007 Dr. Gary W. Peterson
        Dr. Ronald Amundson

2008 Mr. Robin O'Malley
        Dr. Bob A. Stewart

2009 Dr. G. Philip Robertson

2010 Dr. Henry Janzen

2011 Dr. Paul M. Bertsch

2012 Dr. Ken Cassman

2013 Dr. Ron Follett
        Dr. Mark B. David

2014 Dr. Diana H. Wall