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Biodiversity and ecosystem function in soil

Fitter, A H, Gilligan, C A, Hollingworth, K, Kleczkowski, A, Twyman, R M and Pitchford, J W (2005) Biodiversity and ecosystem function in soil. Functional Ecology. pp. 369-377. ISSN 0269-8463

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Abstract

1. Soils are one of the last great frontiers for biodiversity research and are home to an extraordinary range of microbial and animal groups. Biological activities in soils drive many of the key ecosystem processes that govern the global system, especially in the cycling of elements such as carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus. 2. We cannot currently make firm statements about the scale of biodiversity in soils, or about the roles played by soil organisms in the transformations of organic materials that underlie those cycles. The recent UK Soil Biodiversity Programme (SBP) has brought a unique concentration of researchers to bear on a single soil in Scotland, and has generated a large amount of data concerning biodiversity, carbon flux and resilience in the soil ecosystem. 3. One of the key discoveries of the SBP was the extreme diversity of small organisms: researchers in the programme identified over 100 species of bacteria, 350 protozoa, 140 nematodes and 24 distinct types of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi. Statistical analysis of these results suggests a much greater 'hidden diversity'. In contrast, there was no unusual richness in other organisms, such as higher fungi, mites, collembola and annelids. 4. Stable-isotope (C-13) technology was used to measure carbon fluxes and map the path of carbon through the food web. A novel finding was the rapidity with which carbon moves through the soil biota, revealing an extraordinarily dynamic soil ecosystem. 5. The combination of taxonomic diversity and rapid carbon flux makes the soil ecosystem highly resistant to perturbation through either changing soil structure or removing selected groups of organisms.

Item Type: Article
Copyright, Publisher and Additional Information: © 2005 British Ecological Society. This is an electronic version of an article published in Functional Ecology: complete citation information for the final version of the paper, as published in the print edition of Functional Ecology, is available on the Blackwell Synergy online delivery service, accessible via the journal's website at www.blackwellpublishing.com/journal.asp?ref=0269-8463 or www.blackwell-synergy.com
Keywords: bacteria, C-13, carbon flux, fungi, models, resilience, soil fauna, Sourhope, BACTERIAL COMMUNITY STRUCTURE, GRADIENT GEL-ELECTROPHORESIS, ARBUSCULAR MYCORRHIZAL FUNGI, UPLAND GRASSLAND SOIL, MICROBIAL DIVERSITY, PROKARYOTIC DIVERSITY, FOOD-WEB, TURNOVER, FOREST, RNA
Institution: The University of York
Academic Units: The University of York > Biology (York)
The University of York > Mathematics (York)
Depositing User: Repository Officer
Date Deposited: 08 Aug 2005
Last Modified: 16 Oct 2014 16:42
Published Version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2435.2005.00969.x
Status: Published
Refereed: Yes
Related URLs:
URI: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/571

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