Microbial diversity drives multifunctionality in terrestrial ecosystems

Manuel Delgado-Baquerizo, Fernando T. Maestre, Peter B. Reich, Thomas C. Jeffries, Juan J. Gaitan, Daniel Encinar, Miguel Berdugo, Colin D. Campbell, Brajesh K. Singh

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Despite the importance of microbial communities for ecosystem services and human welfare, the relationship between microbial diversity and multiple ecosystem functions and services (that is, multifunctionality) at the global scale has yet to be evaluated. Here we use two independent, large-scale databases with contrasting geographic coverage (from 78 global drylands and from 179 locations across Scotland, respectively), and report that soil microbial diversity positively relates to multifunctionality in terrestrial ecosystems. The direct positive effects of microbial diversity were maintained even when accounting simultaneously for multiple multifunctionality drivers (climate, soil abiotic factors and spatial predictors). Our findings provide empirical evidence that any loss in microbial diversity will likely reduce multifunctionality, negatively impacting the provision of services such as climate regulation, soil fertility and food and fibre production by terrestrial ecosystems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number10541
JournalNature communications
StatePublished - Jan 28 2016

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    Delgado-Baquerizo, M., Maestre, F. T., Reich, P. B., Jeffries, T. C., Gaitan, J. J., Encinar, D., Berdugo, M., Campbell, C. D., & Singh, B. K. (2016). Microbial diversity drives multifunctionality in terrestrial ecosystems. Nature communications, 7, [10541]. https://doi.org/10.1038/ncomms10541