Biodiv Sci ›› 2018, Vol. 26 ›› Issue (9): 972-987.  DOI: 10.17520/biods.2018119

Special Issue: 土壤生物与土壤健康 青藏高原生物多样性与生态安全

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Status, issues and prospects of belowground biodiversity on the Tibetan alpine grassland

Anrong Liu1, Teng Yang2, Wei Xu1, Zijian Shangguan1, Jinzhou Wang1, Huiying Liu1, Yu Shi2, Haiyan Chu2, Jin-Sheng He1,3,*()   

  1. 1 Department of Ecology, College of Urban and Environmental Sciences, Peking University, Beijing 100871
    2 Institute of Soil Science, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Nanjing 210008
    3 State Key Laboratory of Grassland Agro-Ecosystems, Lanzhou University, Lanzhou 730020
  • Received:2018-04-16 Accepted:2018-05-25 Online:2018-09-20 Published:2019-01-05
  • Contact: He Jin-Sheng
  • About author:# Co-first authors


The diversity and abundance of below-ground microorganisms and animals play an important role in shaping above-ground biodiversity and helps maintain ecosystem function. Yet, we have a limited understanding of belowground biodiversity, e.g. its spatial/temporal patterns, driving factors and responses to global change and human activities. This knowledge gap is particularly acute for the Tibetan alpine grassland that is sensitive to climate change and occupies 60% of the area of the Tibetan Plateau. Here, we first review recent studies that reported the drivers of patterns in five major soil organism groups, including fungi, bacteria, archaea, nematodes and arthropods on Tibetan alpine grassland. We then focus on the responses of soil biodiversity to climate change and human activities. Finally, we highlight some open questions for future research of soil diversity on the Tibetan alpine grassland. Specifically, we recommend that future studies examine (1) The mechanisms underlying distribution patterns of belowground biodiversity; (2) Links between aboveground and belowground biodiversity; (3) Effects of belowground biodiversity on the health and functioning of ecosystems; (4) Manipulative experiments of belowground biodiversity.

Key words: soil microorganisms, soil animals, biodiversity, species richness, climate change, human activities