Science for a Blue Planet

Featuring cutting-edge work, discoveries, and challenges of our scientists, our partners, and the larger conservation science community.

Life Belowground on the Range

If you are a nature enthusiast, science nerd, or rangeland manager, this new guide will provide you with useful and fun knowledge about the intricate and fascinating world below our feet in a beautiful format. Life Belowground on the Range, an introduction to the soil communities that support California’s rangelands was produced by Point Blue Conservation Science in cooperation with TomKat Ranch. It was written by Senior Soil Ecologist Chelsea Carey, illustrated by Rangeland Field Ecologist Mel Preston, and designed by Jordan Rosenblum.

Some of the hot topics being discussed in conservation communities are: How do we sequester more carbon to slow the negative effects of climate change? How do we help the land soak up more water to avoid disastrous erosion? How do we promote thriving, healthy plant communities and croplands? There are many approaches to answering these questions, but part of the puzzle is understanding how the nitty gritty in the soil works.

This guide takes you through key components of the soil community, like earthworms, nematodes, and fungi, explaining what each does to contribute to soil health with easy to understand text and beautiful, brightly colored illustrations that you’ll want to frame and display.

An illustration from the guide of common fungus species found on rangelands.

One of Point Blue’s key focal areas is to use science and partnerships to make sure California’s agricultural lands are providing as much benefit as possible to the communities and wildlife that depend up on them. This guide adds another great tool to the toolbox to sustain working lands, which already includes a framework to monitor plants, soil, and birds (the Rangeland Monitoring Network); a network of Partner Biologists that help farmers and ranchers access funds and practices to enhance their land; and a system to help farmers track surface water across the landscape.

The guide concludes with practical, hands-on tips for how one can start to observe and track the key components of a healthy soil community and ideas of how to manage land to promote soil health, which in turn promotes a whole suite of other benefits like carbon sequestration, robust forage, and sustainable food production.

Download a pdf here to have and share or contact us for a hard copy.


Chelsea Carey
Senior Soil Ecologist