Forest and rangeland soil biodiversity [Chapter 5]This article is part of a larger document. View the larger document here.
Regardless of how soil is defined, soils are the most diverse of all ecosystems. It is estimated that 25-30% of all species on Earth live in soils for all or part of their lives (Decaëns et al. 2006). A single gram of soil is estimated to contain 1 × 109 microorganisms, roughly the same population size as the number of humans in Africa (Microbiology by Numbers 2011). That same gram of soil likely contains 4000 species. They are only one part of a larger food web, however, that includes roundworms (phylum Nematoda), springtails (order Collembola), and other fauna (Fig. 5.1). The soil fauna has equally astounding numbers (e.g., 40,000 springtails in 1 m2). Soil organisms, ranging from microbes to moles (family Talpidae), promote crop growth and livestock production (Barrios 2007; Kibblewhite et al. 2008), produce antibiotics (Wall et al. 2015), control nutrient loads in surface soils and groundwater (De Vries et al. 2011), and regulate greenhouse gas emissions (Singh et al. 2010).