A view from above : the global soil community
IntroductionSoil and climate change
IntroductionThe importance of communities
ResultsTemperature makes a difference
Our review shows that the highest metabolic activity of soil communities is found in warm, moist tropical regions. Whilst this leads to higher carbon and nitrogen fixation rates, it also shows that warm regions emit soil carbon into the atmosphere at a faster rate.
In contrast, colder ecosystems slow down the rate of decomposition significantly, which has led to a huge build-up of undecomposed organic material over time. This represents a huge store of the world’s carbon.
Soil community activity Vs. Soil carbon stock
ResultsAbove-ground Vs. Below-ground
ResultsWhat is your soil made of?
Ecologists have started to identify patterns of global soil communities and have built four research areas to describe this: biomass and abundance, functional group composition, taxonomic diversity and composition, and functional trait expression. These research areas will help us to understand global soil communities and in turn, support healthy communities that maximize ecosystem health and carbon storage.
ResultsA global pattern
By looking at these global patterns, we can also see for the first time just how important the different types of soil communities are for carbon storage. For instance, soils that are dominated by bacteria have fast carbon cycling and release a lot of carbon into the atmosphere. In contrast, those dominated by fungi generally trap more carbon in the soil for long periods of time. As such, if we can manage soils to promote the dominance of long-lived fungi (e.g. using soil inoculants or no-tillage practices), we can promote the long-term storage of carbon in the soil.