Multiple elements of soil biodiversity drive ecosystem functions across biomes

Manuel Delgado-Baquerizo, Peter B. Reich, Chanda Trivedi, David J. Eldridge, Sebastián Abades, Fernando D. Alfaro, Felipe Bastida, Asmeret A. Berhe, Nick A. Cutler, Antonio Gallardo, Laura García-Velázquez, Stephen C. Hart, Patrick E. Hayes, Ji Zheng He, Zeng Yei Hseu, Hang Wei Hu, Martin Kirchmair, Sigrid Neuhauser, Cecilia A. Pérez, Sasha C. ReedFernanda Santos, Benjamin W. Sullivan, Pankaj Trivedi, Jun Tao Wang, Luis Weber-Grullon, Mark A. Williams, Brajesh K. Singh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

535 Citations (Scopus)


The role of soil biodiversity in regulating multiple ecosystem functions is poorly understood, limiting our ability to predict how soil biodiversity loss might affect human wellbeing and ecosystem sustainability. Here, combining a global observational study with an experimental microcosm study, we provide evidence that soil biodiversity (bacteria, fungi, protists and invertebrates) is significantly and positively associated with multiple ecosystem functions. These functions include nutrient cycling, decomposition, plant production, and reduced potential for pathogenicity and belowground biological warfare. Our findings also reveal the context dependency of such relationships and the importance of the connectedness, biodiversity and nature of the globally distributed dominant phylotypes within the soil network in maintaining multiple functions. Moreover, our results suggest that the positive association between plant diversity and multifunctionality across biomes is indirectly driven by soil biodiversity. Together, our results provide insights into the importance of soil biodiversity for maintaining soil functionality locally and across biomes, as well as providing strong support for the inclusion of soil biodiversity in conservation and management programmes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)210-220
Number of pages11
JournalNature Ecology and Evolution
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2020


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