Article

Soil Ecology

Franciska T. De Vries and Richard D. Bardgett

in Ecology

ISBN: 9780199830060
Published online May 2012 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780199830060-0067
Soil Ecology

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  • Applied Ecology (Environmental Science)
  • Ecology and Conservation
  • Plant Ecology
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The study of soil ecology has a long tradition. Most of this interest, until relatively recently, has been from an agricultural perspective, but now it is widely accepted that soil ecology is central to the study of terrestrial ecology. Early research in soil ecology was largely descriptive, detailing the abundance of diversity of organisms in soils of different habitats. However, interest in functional soil ecology started in the 1980s with studies of trophic interactions in soil and their importance for nutrient cycles and decomposition. Now, the topic has blossomed, with the help of new technologies that allow the study of soil organisms and their activities in situ, and there is currently widespread recognition that soil ecology is fundamental to our understanding of the functioning of terrestrial ecosystems and their response to global change. Today, the field of soil ecology is dominated by discussions on the use of new molecular tools that enable ecologists to understand what regulates patterns of diversity in soil, the functional role of soil biodiversity and plant-soil interactions, especially those that occur at the root-soil interface, and the role of soil biological communities in regulating ecosystem responses to global change, including the global carbon cycle under climate change. Many challenges still remain in soil ecology, and perhaps the most significant is the need for a stronger theoretical basis for the subject; almost all studies in this area have been carried out from an empirical perspective, and modeling approaches are still in their infancy. As a consequence, our ability to make predictions about the role of soil biological interactions and feedbacks in regulating terrestrial ecosystem processes and their response to global change remains limited.

Article.  12929 words. 

Subjects: Applied Ecology (Environmental Science) ; Ecology and Conservation ; Plant Ecology ; Zoology and Animal Sciences

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