Concluding remarks

This assessment has utilized the available information, most of which is primarily observational. There is no doubt that in the years ahead greater insight and more substantive information will be brought to bear on the central question of the role of diversity in ecosystem functioning and stability. The International Biosphere Geosphere Programme has taken on the task of bringing experimentation and more organized observations to this research field. SCOPE will continue to work on the assessment, concentrating now on the poorly understood role of soil and sediment biotic diversity on ecosystem functioning. The end of this book, then is in a sense the beginning of a new research field. We add one note of caution for future workers in this field. There is no substitution for the power of experimentation. At the same time, certain issues and phenomena, mostly relating to large time and spatial scales, are just not amenable to experimentation. It is these areas where we will have to continue to utilize historical reconstructions and develop a capacity for modelling.

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