'Underworld' can help understand climate change

London, Nov 27: A new study demonstrates the organisms below ground could hold the key to understanding how ecosystems around the world are responding to climate change.

The study brings together new knowledge on this previously neglected area. The rapid responses of soil organisms to climate change could have far-reaching impacts on future ecosystems.

Climate change

Research on below-ground organisms has helped to explain how they interact with one another and how they influence the above-ground flora and fauna.

"For example, an increasing number of studies show that above-ground pest control is influenced by organisms in the soil. This supports the view that a healthy crop requires healthy soil," said Wim van der Putten of the Netherlands Institute of Ecology.

The study explores how the below-ground world can be utilised for sustainable land management.

"Recent soil biodiversity research has revealed that below-ground communities not only play a major role in shaping plant biodiversity and the way that ecosystems function, but it can also determine how they respond to environmental change," explained Richard Bardgett from University of Manchester, UK.

There is an urgent need to integrate what has been learnt about soil diversity into decisions about sustainable land management.

Soil biodiversity research is now entering a new era; awareness is growing among scientists and policy makers of the importance of soil biodiversity for the supply of ecosystem goods and services to human society.

"As we highlight in this paper, a new age of research is needed to meet these scientific challenges and to integrate such understanding into future land management and climate change mitigation strategies," concluded Wim van der Putten.

The study appeared in the journal Nature.


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