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Soil Ecology and Ecosystem Services$
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Diana H. Wall, Richard D. Bardgett, Valerie Behan-Pelletier, Jeffrey E. Herrick, T. Hefin Jones, Karl Ritz, Johan Six, Donald R. Strong, and Wim H. van der Putten

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199575923

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199575923.001.0001

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Managing Soil Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services

Managing Soil Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services

Chapter:
(p.337) Chapter 5.4 Managing Soil Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services
Source:
Soil Ecology and Ecosystem Services
Author(s):

Michel A. Cavigelli

Jude E. Maul

Katalin Szlaveczs

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199575923.003.0030

Managed ecosystems represent about 40 per cent of global terrestrial ecosystems, and their management impacts other ecosystems. This chapter explores the impacts of plant selection, tillage, application of agricultural chemicals (fertilizers, pesticides), application of organic materials (e.g., animal manure), and organic farming systems on soil biodiversity and on the provision of ecosystem services, and links between biodiversity and ecosystem services. Managing lands for economic production generally involves reducing plant diversity considerably compared to native systems, and substituting off-site inputs for ecosystem services provided in native systems, such as the provision of plant nutrients and regulation of pest populations. It is often assumed that such changes in ecosystem structure reduce soil biodiversity and thereby impact ecosystem services considerably. There are a few examples of this dynamic – in some cases, intensive tillage has been shown to eliminate earthworms, resulting in alteration of the hydrological cycle. However, impacts of management on soil biodiversity – other than reduced plant biodiversity – are often relatively subtle, and there is only limited evidence that these changes impact ecosystem function. Also, management impacts on ecosystem services are often independent of changes in soil biodiversity. These conclusions highlight the complex nature of soil biological communities and the challenges inherent in linking soil biodiversity and ecosystem functions in managed ecosystems. Further progress on exploring links between soil biodiversity and ecosystem function will require that we develop a better understanding of the functional traits of individual species and better understand how interactions among species impact ecosystem services.

Keywords:   managed ecosystems, plant selection, tillage, fertilizers, pesticides, manure, compost, organic farming, soil biodiversity, ecosystem services

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