Preface

This book about the biodiversity in soil, freshwater sediments, and marine sediments and their role in the operation of ecosystems and provision of ecosystem services is a project developed under the Scientific Committee on Problems of the Environment (SCOPE). SCOPE's mandate is to assemble, review, and assess available data on human-made environmental change and the effects of these changes on people. In doing so, SCOPE has collected and synthesized scientific information on the complex and dynamic network of flows and interactions of the major biogeochemical cycles over the last three decades (SCOPE 61). When this project was started in 1996, one phase of the SCOPE Global Carbon Cycle project on the flow, interaction, and fate of carbon and other nutrients from land via lakes and rivers to deep oceans was being finalized (SCOPE 57), and a major synthesis of the transfer cycles and management of phosphorus in the global environment had been published, as had aspects of sulfur cycling in wetlands, terrestrial ecosystems, and associated water bodies (SCOPE 48, 51, 54). The first workshop on nitrogen cycling in the North Atlantic ocean and its watersheds was also underway (Howarth 1996). All of these projects, along with a workshop on biodiversity and ecosystem functioning (Schulze and Mooney 1994), drew attention to a lack of science-based knowledge in the area of soil and sediment biodiversity and their influence on ecosystem functioning, and the need for a thorough review and synthesis of the information available, as it posed a significant impediment to achieving sustainability.

Since then, nearly 100 scientists and students from more than 20 countries have voluntarily contributed their time and intellectual knowledge toward achieving a better understanding of soil and sediment biodiversity and biogeochemical cycling, and the consequence of loss on ecosystem services. The productivity of this group over the intervening eight years has been prodigious (see the SCOPE Soil and Sediment Biodiversity and Ecosystem Functioning [SSBEF] Committee Publications Resulting from Three Workshops in the back of this volume).

The SCOPE Committee on Soil and Sediment Biodiversity and Ecosystem Functioning held its final international workshop in Estes Park, Colorado, in the fall of2002;

xvn the results of their deliberations are presented in this volume as a synthesis of their current understanding.

Diana H. Wall

Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory, Colorado State University Fort Collins, CO, USA

John W.B. Stewart SCOPE Editor-in-Chief Salt Spring Island, BC, Canada

SCOPE Secretariat

51 Boulevard de Montmorency, 75016 Paris, France VĂ©ronique Plocq Fichelet, Executive Director

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