International Biological Programme IBP 19641974

The International Biological Programme (IBP) was started in 1964 and it aimed to encourage collaboration between biologists representing different fields. This was probably the first program that related biodiversity to ecosystem function. Within IBP, a Biome program was drawn up at a meeting held in Poland in 1966. At this meeting it was agreed that there should be major studies on different types of ecosystems. These ecosystems were first described as "habitat groups," but soon the word "biome" replaced "habitat" in official publications.

One of the original five habitat groups was called "Arctic and Subarctic Lands," but this title was later changed to "Tundra Biome." In 1969, the circumpolar coverage of the program was enlarged by the active participation of scientists from the USSR. In 1970, when the third international meeting took place at Kevo, Finland, the definition of the biome had then been enlarged to cover Arctic, Subarctic, Alpine, and Sub-Antarctic areas with, in addition, certain moorland ecosystems that did not automatically fit into one of the major categories. Thus, "tundra" was used in its widest sense and not to denote a specific vegetation zone of the Arctic.

IBP research in tundra involved ten countries and they aimed, among other things, to:

• Measure net primary production of the main types of terrestrial ecosystems in the tundra biome, show how this varies within each ecosystem, within the year and between years, and define the relationships between production and the main factors influencing it, for example, species composition (biodiversity), soil conditions, temperature, and light.

• Estimate the numbers, biomass, and production of the main invertebrates, and estimate numbers of soil microorganisms and define their main physiological activities in a limited number of sites.

Examples of studies that were carried out within the IBP Biome program are "The collembola of the tundra biome sites: a zoogeographical synthesis" and "The microflora of tundra," presented in Bliss et al. (1981). In addition, many site descriptions including species lists were published in national and international reports. Overall, IBP produced a wealth of fundamental information on the structure (biodiversity) and function (productivity) of tundra ecosystems. A particularly important focus was that on biodiversity, abundance, and function of soil organisms including microorganisms.

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