Introduction

Interest in soils as reservoirs of biodiversity has increased in the last several years. It is important to define biodiversity, which is an inclusive concept. Biodiversity encompasses a wide range of functional attributes in ecosystems in addition to being concerned with the numbers of species present in a given ecosystem. Within terrestrial ecosystems, soils may contain some of the last great "unknowns" of many of the biota. This includes such relatively well-studied fauna as ants (Holldobler and Wilson, 1990), as well as the more numerous and less studied meso-fauna, such as microarthropods (Behan-Pelletier and Newton, 1999) and nematodes (Ettema and Yeates, 2003), that interact with elements of the microbiota, such as mycorrhiza, in several ways, including mutu-alistic ones (Wall and Moore, 1999). Much has been learned in the last decade about prokaryotic genetic diversity in soils; see the review by Hugenholtz et al. (1998).

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