ARCHIVE: Soil indicators: Biological

Recent research undertaken for Defra has identified thirteen potential bio-indicators that show the greatest promise for use in national-scale soil monitoring. These indicators are now undergoing field evaluation to determine if they are sensitive enough to detect environmental change against a background of inherent spatial and temporal variability and if they provide consistent and reproducible results across the UK range of soil and land use combinations.

The thirteen indicators undergoing field evaluation are:

Indicator
Method description

Community Level Physiological Profile from soil respiration

Activity capability profile of soil community for soil carbon cycling

Potential enzyme activities

Enzyme activity for a range of soil biogeochemical cycles e.g. carbon, sulphur, phosphorus, nitrogen

Nematode community structure

Diversity and size of soil nematode community

Soil microbial community structure and biomass

Composition of specific groups in soil microbial community and soil microbial biomass

Ammonia oxidisers

Genetic profiling of soil microbial functional groups important for nitrogen cycling

Denitrifiers

Genetic profiling of soil microbial functional groups important for nitrogen cycling

Bacterial community

Genetic profiling of the soil bacterial community

Archaea

Genetic profiling of soil microbial functional groups important for carbon (methane) cycling

Methanogens

Genetic profiling of soil microbial functional groups important for carbon (methane) cycling

Methanotrophs

Genetic profiling of soil microbial functional groups important for carbon (methane) cycling

Actinomycetes

Genetic profiling of the soil actinomycete community

Fungal community

Genetic profiling of the soil fungal community

Microarthropod community structure

Diversity and size of soil invertebrate community

The work is being undertaken by the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Cranfield University and the Macaulay Institute and will be completed in December 2008.

The outputs of this project will feed into the work of the UK Soil Indicators Consortium.

Further details of Defra’s soil indicator research projects are available:

Page last modified: 3 April 2009
Page published: 9 March 2005