Lancaster University

This is archived news from Lancaster University. You can find up-to-date stories in our current news section.

Book explores the secret life of soil

05/12/2005 10:15:06

Lancaster Environment Centre scientist Professor Richard Bardgett has published a new book about the forgotten reservoir of biodiversity underground.

The book The Biology of Soil: A community and ecosystem approach shows how the little-understood processes of life underground have an important effect on the way that the world’s ecosystems are structured and function, and how they respond to global change.

It includes case studies from different ecosystems around the world showing how soil organisms influence processes of nutrient cycling and the ways that plants grow and compete with one another for valuable resources. It also considers how the soil’s balance can be affected by climate change, intensive farming, invasive species and pollution, and how important the soil is for understanding how ecosystems will respond to these global changes.

Much is still to be learned about the soil biota and their roles in ecosystems, and Professor Bardgett highlights some of the many challenges that face ecologists in the exploration of soil.

He said: “For much of history, few things have mattered more to humans than their relations with soil. Despite this, the soil is perhaps the least understood, and most abused, habitat on Earth. My hope with this book is that it reveals that the biology of soil is of fundamental importance to the sustainability of life on Earth.”

The book, published by Oxford University Press, is an easy to read introduction for anyone working in the field of ecology, land management, and related disciplines. The book has been highly praised by reviewers, and has been strongly recommended as a core text in ecology.

Richard Bardgett is Professor of Ecology in the Institute of Environmental and Natural Sciences at the University of Lancaster.