Focus Area

At present there is a particular interest in the relation between biodiversity, simply defined as the number of species present in the system, and function in the soil. This is part of a more general concern to conserve biodiversity and its role in maintaining a functional biosphere. The tacit assumptions in many current studies are that (i) by characterizing diversity one will be able to understand and manipulate the working of ecosystems and (ii) the ability of an ecosystem to withstand serious disturbances may depend in part on the diversity of the system. The importance of biodiversity in the functionality of ecosystems was stressed by Agenda 21, a document from the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, prepared in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. The document promoted Scientific and international cooperation for a better understanding of the importance of biodiversity and its functions in ecosystems. There is now a growing body of experimental evidence that most organisms are