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All terrestrial ecosystems consist of aboveground and belowground components that interact to influence community- and ecosystem-level processes and properties. Here we show how these components are closely interlinked at the community level, reinforced by a greater degree of specificity between plants and soil organisms than has been previously supposed. As such, aboveground and belowground communities can be powerful mutual drivers, with both positive and negative feedbacks. A combined aboveground-belowground approach to community and ecosystem ecology is enhancing our understanding of the regulation and functional significance of biodiversity and of the environmental impacts of human-induced global change phenomena.