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Cross-taxa congruence, indicators and environmental gradients in soils under agricultural and extensive land management

By Aidan M. Keith, Bas Boots, Christina Hazard, Robin Niechoj, Julio Arroyo, Gary D. Bending, Tom Bolger, John Breen, Nicholas Clipson, Fiona M. Doohan, Christine T. Griffin and Olaf Schmidt

Abstract

Important steps in developing reliable bioindicators for soil quality are characterising soil biodiversity and determining the response of its components to environmental factors across a range of land uses and soil types. Baseline data from a national survey in Ireland were used to explore relationships between diversity and composition of micro-organisms (bacteria, fungi, mycorrhiza), and micro-, meso- and macro-fauna (nematodes; mites; earthworms, ants) across a general gradient representing dominant land uses (arable, pasture, rough-grazing, forest and bogland). These diversity data were also linked to soil physico-chemical properties. Differences in diversity and composition of meso- and macro-fauna, but not microbes, were clear between agriculturally-managed (arable and pasture) and extensively-managed (rough-grazing and bogland) soils corresponding to a broad division between ‘mineral’ and ‘organic’ soils. The abundance, richness and composition of nematode and earthworm taxa were significantly congruent with a number of the other groups. Further analysis, using significant indicator species from each group, identified potential target taxa and linked them to soil environmental gradients. This study suggests that there is potential surrogacy between the diversity of key soil taxa groups and that different sets of bioindicators may be most effective under agricultural and extensive land use

Topics: Agriculture and Soil Science, Biology and Microbiology, Ecology and Environment
Publisher: Elsevier
Year: 2012
DOI identifier: 10.1016/j.ejsobi.2011.08.002
OAI identifier: oai:nora.nerc.ac.uk:15196

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