Ecosystem Services Provided by Soil Life

Authored by: Wim H. van der Putten , Diana H. Wall

Routledge Handbook of Ecosystem Services

Print publication date:  January  2016
Online publication date:  January  2016

Print ISBN: 9781138025080
eBook ISBN: 9781315775302
Adobe ISBN:


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Soils harbour an enormous diversity of microbes and fauna that play a major role in delivering ecosystem services (Wall et al., 2012). This diversity can be assessed by a large array of microscope-based and molecular identification techniques and varies largely from 100 to more than 9,000 microbial taxa per g soil and from 10 to several thousand taxa of fauna present under one square metre of vegetation (Bardgett and van der Putten, 2014). The services produced by soil life are strongly dependent on the abiotic environment: the global location determines climate (minimum, maximum and average temperature, number of frost days, plant cover, etc.), whereas within climatic regions, soil type – and related to that, vegetation composition – determines which soil organisms may be present, due to habitat filtering activities. Finally, within ecosystems, effects of humans predominantly influence soil ecosystem services by land management, soil tillage, crop species used, water table management, fertilization, pesticide use, and soil sealing, amongst others.

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