Relationships in the soil become stronger during restoration. Although all major groups of soil life are already present in former agricultural soils, they are not really connected. These connections need time to literally grow, and fungi are the star performers. A European research team has shown the complete network of soil life for the first time.
Earthworms, fungi, nematodes, mites, springtails, and bacteria are all very busy underground. All soil life together forms one community. Under natural circumstances, that is. All the known groups of soil organisms are present from the start, but the links between them are missing. Because they don't interact, the community isn't ready to support a diverse plant community yet.
Fungi turn out to play a very important role in restoration, appearing to drive the development of new networks in the soil. After six years, about 10% is fungal biomass and 90% is from bacteria. Still, already at that stage, about half the carbon -- being the food -- goes to the fungi. After 30 years, that share has risen to three quarters of the carbon stored. Fungi really are the drivers in natural soils.
Understanding how these networks form is critical to fully understanding the process of ecological restoration. You can read all about it here.