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Soil biodiversity

Closeup of worm culture, Peru. Worms are used to improve soil quality.

Soil biodiversity reflects the variability among living organisms including a myriad of organisms not visible with the naked eye, such as micro-organisms (e.g. bacteria, fungi, protozoa and nematodes) and meso-fauna (e.g. acari and springtails), as well as the more familiar macro-fauna (e.g. earthworms and termites). Plant roots can also be considered as soil organisms in view of their symbiotic relationships and interactions with other soil components. 

These diverse organisms interact with one another and with the various plants and animals in the ecosystem forming a complex web of biological activity. Soil organisms contribute a wide range of essential services to the sustainable function of all ecosystems. They act as the primary driving agents of nutrient cycling, regulating the dynamics of soil organic matter, soil carbon sequestration and greenhouse gas emission, modifying soil physical structure and water regimes, enhancing the amount and efficiency of nutrient acquisition by the vegetation and enhancing plant health. These services are not only essential to the functioning of natural ecosystems but constitute an important resource for the sustainable management of agricultural systems.