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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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Delivery of Soil Ecosystem Services: From Gaia to Genes

Delivery of Soil Ecosystem Services: From Gaia to Genes

(p.98) Chapter 2.3 Delivery of Soil Ecosystem Services: From Gaia to Genes
Soil Ecology and Ecosystem Services

Katarina Hedlund

Jim Harris

Oxford University Press

In order to provide an effective understanding of the impacts of different threats to soils and how to promote sustainable soil use, we need to understand the relationships between diversity of soil organisms from gene to community level, and their delivery of ecosystem services. Two approaches are used. First, the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment that evaluates ecosystem services as a means to demonstrate the importance of biodiversity conservation both globally and locally, and with the well-being of man as the end point. Second, the Gaia hypothesis that considers the Earth as if it were a single organism where biological and abiotic component interactions maintain equilibrium about a point to keep conditions favourable for life. Both frameworks embrace a global concept of delivery of ecosystem services that are poorly developed with regard to soils and soil biota in particular. Soil ecosystem services delivery may act locally on a micro scale in soil aggregates and with a high resolution of specific functions while having global consequences for carbon and nitrogen fluxes. Hence, policy decisions depend on adequate insight into the functioning of the delivery of soil ecosystem services from micro to global scale, and should ultimately be fed into the development of climate change models that do not yet include soil ecosystem processes on several scales. This chapter describes the essential steps that must be taken to promote such approaches and, ultimately, bring soil ecology into global policy.

Keywords:   Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, Gaia hypothesis, ecosystem services, global scale

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