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Nat Commun. 2016 Jan 28;7:10541. doi: 10.1038/ncomms10541.

Microbial diversity drives multifunctionality in terrestrial ecosystems.

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Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment, Western Sydney University, Penrith, New South Wales 2751, Australia.
Área de Biodiversidad y Conservación, Departamento de Biología y Geología, Física y Química Inorgánica, Escuela Superior de Ciencias Experimentales y Tecnología, Universidad Rey Juan Carlos, Calle Tulipán Sin Número, Móstoles 28933, Spain.
Department of Forest Resources, University of Minnesota, St Paul, Minnesota 55108, USA.
Instituto de Suelos, CIRN, INTA, Nicolas Repetto y de los Reseros Sin Número, Hurlingham, Buenos Aires 1686, Argentina.
The James Hutton Institute, Craigiebuckler, Aberdeen AB15 8QH, UK.
Global Centre for Land-Based Innovation, Western Sydney University, Penrith South DC, New South Wales 2751, Australia.


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.

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