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Stone D.,University of Leeds | Stone D.,Teagasc | Costa D.,University of Coimbra | Daniell T.J.,James Hutton Institute | And 3 more authors.
Applied Soil Ecology | Year: 2016

There is a current need to identify European biological indicators of biodiversity and ecosystem function that can be used for soil monitoring, in order to aid policy making. Europe, however, is subdivided into different bio-geographical (climate) zones, containing different soils and varying management practices. This work (as part of the EcoFINDERS project) set out to determine the range of variation in nematode community structure as a potential indicator across European bio-geographical zones, taking into account land use and soil characteristics. Nematodes have been suggested as biological indicators for the monitoring of soil quality due to their involvement in the delivery of functions such as carbon sequestration and recycling of nutrients as well as the provision of habitat for biodiversity. Using a molecular (directed-T-RFLP) approach for rapid nematode community structure assessment and a traditional morphological assessment at a feeding group level, we determined that nematode communities differ between bio-geographical zones and between different land uses within bio-geographical zones. Therefore, at the very large or trans-national level, the presence of any differing bio-geographical zones within the monitored area should be taken into account when sampling and analysing data. Care should be taken when making comparisons across different bio-geographical zones. © 2015 Elsevier B.V. Source


Stone D.,University of Leeds | Stone D.,Teagasc | Ritz K.,University of Nottingham | Griffiths B.G.,Crop and Soils Systems Research Group | And 2 more authors.
Applied Soil Ecology | Year: 2016

The selection of biological indicators for monitoring progress towards policy goals for soil quality should be without bias and in line with individual scenarios of need. Here we describe the prescription of a suite of appropriate indicators for potential application in such monitoring schemes across Europe. We applied a structured framework of assessment and ranking ( viz. a 'logical sieve'), building upon published data and a new survey taken from a wide section of the global soil biodiversity research and policy community.The top ten indicators included four indicators of biodiversity (three microbial and one meso-faunal) by various methods of measurement, and three indicators of ecological function (Multiple enzyme assay, Multiple substrate-induced respiration profiling, and 'Functional genes by molecular biological means'). Within the techniques assessed, seven out of the top ten indicators made use of molecular methods. © 2015 Elsevier B.V. Source


Creamer R.E.,Teagasc | Hannula S.E.,Netherlands Institute of Ecology | Leeuwen J.,Wageningen University | Stone D.,Teagasc | And 26 more authors.
Applied Soil Ecology | Year: 2016

Soil organisms are considered drivers of soil ecosystem services (primary productivity, nutrient cycling, carbon cycling, water regulation) associated with sustainable agricultural production. Soil biodiversity was highlighted in the soil thematic strategy as a key component of soil quality. The lack of quantitative standardised data at a large scale has resulted in poor understanding of how soil biodiversity could be incorporated into legislation for the protection of soil quality. In 2011, the EcoFINDERS (FP7) project sampled 76 sites across 11 European countries, covering five biogeographical zones (Alpine, Atlantic, Boreal, Continental and Mediterranean) and three land-uses (arable, grass, forestry). Samples collected from across these sites ranged in soil properties; soil organic carbon (SOC), pH and texture. To assess the range in biodiversity and ecosystem function across the sites, fourteen biological methods were applied as proxy indicators for these functions. These methods measured the following: microbial diversity: DNA yields (molecular biomass), archaea, bacteria, total fungi and arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi; micro fauna diversity: nematode trophic groups; meso fauna diversity: enchytraeids and Collembola species; microbial function: nitrification, extracellular enzymes, multiple substrate induced respiration, community level physiological profiling and ammonia oxidiser/nitrification functional genes. Network analysis was used to identify the key connections between organisms under the different land use scenarios. Highest network density was found in forest soils and lowest density occurred in arable soils. Key taxomonic units (TUs) were identified in each land-use type and in relation to SOC and pH categorisations. Top-connected taxonomic units (i.e. displaying the most co-occurrence to other TUs) were identified for each land use type. In arable sites this was dominated by bacteria and fungi, while in grassland sites bacteria and fungi were most connected. In forest soils archaeal, enchytraeid and fungal TUs displayed the largest number of neighbours, reflecting the greatest connectivity. Multiple regression models were applied to assess the potential contribution of soil organisms to carbon cycling and storage and nutrient cycling of specifically nitrogen and phosphorus. Key drivers of carbon cycling were microbial biomass, basal respiration and fungal richness; these three measures have often been associated with carbon cycling in soils. Regression models of nutrient cycling were dependent on the model applied, showing variation in biological indicators. © 2015 Elsevier B.V. Source


Stone D.,Teagasc | Ritz K.,University of Nottingham | Griffiths B.G.,Crop and Soils Systems Research Group | Orgiazzi A.,European Commission - Joint Research Center Ispra | Creamer R.E.,Teagasc
Applied Soil Ecology | Year: 2015

The selection of biological indicators for monitoring progress towards policy goals for soil quality should be without bias and in line with individual scenarios of need. Here we describe the prescription of a suite of appropriate indicators for potential application in such monitoring schemes across Europe. We applied a structured framework of assessment and ranking (viz. a 'logical sieve'), building upon published data and a new survey taken from a wide section of the global soil biodiversity research and policy community.The top ten indicators included four indicators of biodiversity (three microbial and one meso-faunal) by various methods of measurement, and three indicators of ecological function (Multiple enzyme assay, Multiple substrate-induced respiration profiling, and 'Functional genes by molecular biological means'). Within the techniques assessed, seven out of the top ten indicators made use of molecular methods. © 2015 Elsevier B.V. Source

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