Multiple elements of soil biodiversity drive ecosystem functions across biomes
Alfaro, Fernando D. [Univ Mayor, GEMA Ctr Genom Ecol & Environm, Santiago, Chile]
Abades, Sebastián [Univ Mayor, GEMA Ctr Genom Ecol & Environm, Santiago, Chile]
Delgado-Baquerizo, Manuel; Reich, Peter B.; Trivedi, Chanda; Eldridge, David J.; Bastida, Felipe; Berhe, Asmeret A.; Cutler, Nick A.; Gallardo, Antonio; Garcia-Velazquez, Laura; Hart, Stephen C.; Hayes, Patrick E.; He, Ji-Zheng; Hseu, Zeng-Yei; Hu, Hang-Wei; Kirchmair, Martin; Neuhauser, Sigrid; Pérez, Cecilia A.; Reed, Sasha C.; Santos, Fernanda; Sullivan, Benjamin W.; Trivedi, Pankaj; Wang, Jun-Tao; Weber-Grullon, Luis; Williams, Mark A.; Singh, Brajesh K.
The role of soil biodiversity in regulating multiple ecosystem functions is poorly understood, limiting our ability to predict how soil biodiversity loss might affect human wellbeing and ecosystem sustainability. Here, combining a global observational study with an experimental microcosm study, we provide evidence that soil biodiversity (bacteria, fungi, protists and invertebrates) is significantly and positively associated with multiple ecosystem functions. These functions include nutrient cycling, decomposition, plant production, and reduced potential for pathogenicity and belowground biological warfare. Our findings also reveal the context dependency of such relationships and the importance of the connectedness, biodiversity and nature of the globally distributed dominant phylotypes within the soil network in maintaining multiple functions. Moreover, our results suggest that the positive association between plant diversity and multifunctionality across biomes is indirectly driven by soil biodiversity. Together, our results provide insights into the importance of soil biodiversity for maintaining soil functionality locally and across biomes, as well as providing strong support for the inclusion of soil biodiversity in conservation and management programmes. Combining field data from 83 sites on five continents, together with microcosm experiments, the authors show that nutrient cycling, decomposition, plant production and other ecosystem functions are positively associated with a higher diversity of a wide range of soil organisms.
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