When we think of the major biomes around the world (coral reefs, rainforests, etc), their biodiversity is often cited as being one of their key features, supporting the vast range of provisional services they provide, such as building materials, tourism, fishing, bioactive compounds… the list goes on and on. However, for the most part, ‘biodiversity’ often refers to the macro-scale. So, is microbial diversity just as important for the provision of ecosystem function and services?
A recent paper by Delgado-Baquerizo and colleagues in Nature Communications seems to suggest that this may be so. By analysing samples from two databases – the global dryland network and the Second National Soils Inventory of Scotland – they found a positive relationship between soil microbial diversity and ‘multi-functionality’. A reduction in microbial diversity negatively impacted the provision of final services such as soil fertility and food production.
So, next time you hear someone talking about biodiversity, make sure you remind them that the little guys count too!!