Soil is one of the fundamental components for supporting life on Earth. Most ecosystem processes and global functions that occur within soil are driven by living organisms that, in turn, sustain life above ground. However, despite the fact that soils are home to a quarter of all living species on Earth, life within the soil is often hidden away and suffers by being 'out of sight and out of mind'. What kind of life is there in soil? What do we mean by soil biodiversity? What is special about soil biology? How do our activities affect soil ecosystems? What are the links between soil biota and climate change?
The first ever European Atlas of Soil Biodiversity uses informative texts, stunning photographs and maps to answer these questions and other issues. The European Atlas of Soil Biodiversity functions as a comprehensive guide allowing non-specialists to access information about this unseen world. The first part of the book provides an overview of the below ground environment, soil biota in general, the ecosystem functions that soil organism perform, the important value it has for human activities and relevance for global biogeochemical cycles. The second part is an 'Encyclopedia of Soil Biodiversity'. Starting with the smallest organisms such as the bacteria, this segment works through a range of taxonomic groups such as fungi, nematodes, insects and macro-fauna to illustrate the astonishing levels of heterogeneity of life in soil. The European Atlas of Soil Biodiversity is more than just a normal atlas. Produced by leading soil scientists from Europe and other parts of the world under the auspice of the International Year of Biodiversity 2010, this unique document presents an interpretation of an often neglected biome that surrounds and affects us all. The European Atlas of Soil Biodiversity is an essential reference to the many and varied aspects of soil. The overall goal of this work is to convey the fundamental necessity to safeguard soil biodiversity in order to guarantee life on this planet.