Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Biodiversity Belowground Is Just As Important As Aboveground

The Tibetan Plateau in China was chosen as a study site for its extensive variation in climate. (Credit: Xin Jing, Peking University) Click to Enlarge.
Although most of the world's biodiversity is below ground, surprisingly little is known about how it affects ecosystems or how it will be affected by climate change.  A new study demonstrates that soil bacteria and the richness of animal species belowground play a key role in regulating a whole suite of ecosystem functions on Earth.  The authors call for far more attention to this overlooked world of worms, bugs and bacteria in the soil.

Ecosystem functions such as carbon storage and the availability of nutrients are linked to the bugs, bacteria and other microscopic organisms that occur in the soil.  In fact, as much as 32% of the variation seen in ecosystem functions can be explained by the biodiversity in the soil.  In comparison, plant biodiversity accounts for 42%.  That is the conclusions of a new study published in Nature Communications led by Peking University and the Center for Macroecology, Evolution and Climate at the University of Copenhagen.

Read more at Biodiversity Belowground Is Just As Important As Aboveground