Introduction

There are several areas of rapid change that are of interest to soil ecologists in the 21st century. The effects of soil processes and soil biota on global change, particularly with relation to global greenhouse gases, are of concern to resource managers and globally oriented ecologists (Coleman et al., 1992). More recently, as noted in Chapter 7, there has been a rising current of interest in soils and biodiversity (Coleman, 2001). 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 mesofauna, such as microarthropods and nematodes. The role of soils in the ecology of invasive species is an area of rapidly increasing findings. We also consider the roles of soils and the "Gaia" mechanism, and finally, ways to evaluate soil quality.

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