Here you can find out more about global soil biodiversity. Natural ecosystems provide a vast array of ecosystem services which are critical to the survival and wellbeing of humans worldwide. In addition, the organisms within these ecosystems drive the carbon cycle that determines global climate conditions. However, we only beginning to understand which characteristics of those biological communities are most important for providing these services. By examining the relationships between biological communities and carbon cycling at a global scale, we can improve our understanding of the biosphere and the climate system.
We examine the global relationships between biological communities and ecosystem functioning using communities of soil organisms and forest trees.
Linking soil organisms to ecosystem functioning at a global scale
The soil represents the largest terrestrial carbon store. Through the activity of soil organisms, the soil emits 10 times more carbon than humans each year, a process which is balanced by an approximately equivalent uptake of carbon via plants. However, if land use or climate change alter that balance, it could drastically alter atmospheric carbon concentrations and the climate. To improve our capacity to predict future changes in this global soil carbon balance, we are exploring the distribution and functioning of soil communities worldwide (see 1,8,15), as well as the mechanistic linkages between the two (see 7,8,15–18). This research will also help us to understand how we can manage and restore healthy soils in the fight against biodiversity loss, poverty and climate change (see 15,17).