Richard D Bardgett

The next two chapters discuss the different types of goods and services that are provided by diverse soil and sediment biota, and highlight the vulnerability of these biota and the services they perform to global environmental change. To understand fully the roles and vulnerabilities of soil and sediment biota in a changing world requires explicit consideration of the issue of scale in terms of the spatial and temporal scale at which organism activities operate, and also consideration of the possibility that activities in one domain may affect those occurring in another. In the following chapters, both these important issues are addressed.

The first chapter addresses the issue of spatial scale of biodiversity, analyzing the scales at which biota and the services they perform are delivered, and comparing this with the scales at which the ecosystem processes operate. Different groups of the biota of soils and sediment live and operate at different spatial scales, from assemblages of microbes at the microhabitat scale to plants and macroinvertebrates that operate at much larger spatial scales. A key conclusion from this chapter is that biodiversity in soils and sediments allows the creation of self-organizing systems (SOSs) that are recognizable by a clearly defined set of interacting organisms within a specifically defined habitat, which they create and/or inhabit. Furthermore, all species within each SOS participate in providing the service to the extent that they contribute certain functional traits that can resist disturbances. In exploring this issue, the relationship between vulnerability and biodiversity is considered by detailing the functional groups and biological traits that are essential to the performance of the services and/or that allow species to resist disturbances. In view of this, it is argued that successful protection and restoration of habitats requires identification of the scales at which processes that sustain a ser vice operate, and of the functional groups and species of biota that are essential to that service. By making these identifications, it might be possible either to limit disturbances of habitats to acceptable levels (protection) or to reintroduce, into newly recreated ecosystems, species with acceptable traits.

As noted at the start of Chapter 9 (Ineson et al.), assessment of the impacts of ecosystem management and disturbances on the provision of ecosystem services would be a comparatively simple process if ecosystems were totally self-contained and independent. This is clearly not the case: effects of disturbance or management within one spatially distinct habitat will have certain multiple effects on the biota and services of adjacent habitats. Therefore, it is essential that managers consider these secondary effects to other systems, which are an almost inevitable consequence of any adopted management policy or disturbance. Chapter 9 addresses this issue, using the example of deforestation in the terrestrial domain and demonstrating how this activity has cascading effects on the biota and services performed in adjacent, inter-connected ecosystems. The primary objective here is to strengthen our understanding of the importance of the links between the domains rather than simply emphasize the within-domain impacts. Evidence presented from the evaluation of cascading effects of deforestation suggest that changes resulting from the perturbation of a single domain will frequently be seen as impacts in other domains, and that different domains may respond in surprisingly different ways to the same environmental change—as noted in the conclusion of Chapter 9, "one domain's meat may be another domain's poison."

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