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The aim of FPS COST Action FP1305 Linking belowground biodiversity and ecosystem function in European forest (BioLink) is to create a forum where current understanding of functional belowground biodiversity at different scales and trophic levels in European forests can guide the development of prescriptions for sustainable forest and tree crop management.

European forests are of immense importance to both society and the environment, providing a range of products and ecosystem services many of which are threatened by climate change. Our understanding of forest diversity, especially belowground, is currently limited and spread over distinct topic levels. Little is known about the redundancy and functional diversity in forest soils.

Numerous factors threaten existing belowground biodiversity, the simplification of forest ecosystems in pursuit of higher productivity being one of the prominent ones. There is an urgent need to link up existing scientific expertise at different levels to fully explain the connection between diversity, stability and function. Concurrently, forest modelling lacks coordinated activity aimed at bringing biodiversity into the fold – current emphasis is on yield and forest gap models.

Elsewhere, food web models and ecosystem network models are well developed, but their application to forests is limited. This COST Action will provide a forum where current understanding of functional belowground biodiversity in European forests will be synthesised and its role communicated in a form suitable for modellers, policy makers and end-users.