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We deliver actionable evidence and solutions to transform how land is used and how food is produced: conserving and restoring ecosystems, responding to the global climate, malnutrition, biodiversity and desertification crises. In short, improving people’s lives.

Agricultural intensification, soil biodiversity and agroecosystem function

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Intensification of agriculture in the tropics has resulted from a shortage of farmland and insufficient food production to satisfy the needs of an expanding population. Many tropical farmers are challenged by the prospect of intensifying their production while sustaining or improving the fertility and productivity of soils with only locally available natural resources. The waste products of plant and animal production represent some of the most abundant natural resources available for use by tropical farmers to achieve these goals. The efficient use and management of these resources depends on understanding the role that decomposer biota play in regulating the structure and function of agricultural ecosystems. Furthermore, the development of agricultural management practices which promote the beneficial attributes of these organisms will be essential to sustaining the productivity and environmental integrity of tropical agriculture. Finally, understanding the role of biodiversity among decomposer biota in maintaining the functional properties of tropical agricultural ecosystems is critical to achieving this goal.The objective of this review is to further that understanding by describing the taxonomic and functional diversity of decomposer biota in the tropics and evaluating known links between their diversity and the function of agricultural ecosystems. We further describe the effects of changing land-use and agricultural intensification on the structure and diversity of decomposer communities in the tropics and suggest some priorities for future research

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