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Biodiversity conservation science and policy largely ignores the majority of species: the microbes and invertebrates. This biodiversity contains most genetic, metabolic and chemical diversity on Earth and underpins a wide variety of ecosystem services, an unexpected diversity of major industries and, ironically, conventional conservation. Its exclusion, often explained by inadequate scientific technologies, is no longer tenable. On the other hand, its inclusion in biodiversity science and policy will: 1) enhance understanding of the processes and mechanics of ecosystem services, 2) place biodiversity at the core of all economies, 3) realise a vast array of new biological resources, 4) extend responsibility for conservation into industrial sectors that depend on biodiversity, 5) generate a new interest in the workings of the planet through the ‘Attenborough Effect’.

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