Soil biota are essential for many soil processes and functions, yet there are increasing pressures on soil biodiversity and soil degradation remains a pertinent issue. The sustainable management of soils requires soil monitoring, including biological indicators, to be able to relate land use and management to soil functioning and ecosystem services. Since the 1990s, biological soil parameters have been assessed in an increasing number of field trials and monitoring programmes across Europe. The development and effective use of meaningful and widely applicable bio-indicators, however, continue to be challenging tasks. This paper aims to provide an overview of current knowledge on the characterization and assessment of soil biodiversity. Examples of biological soil indicators and monitoring approaches are presented. Furthermore the value of databases for developing a better understanding of the relationship between soil management, soil functions and ecosystem services is discussed. We conclude that integration of monitoring approaches and data sets offers good opportunities for advancing ecological theory as well as application of such knowledge by land managers and other decision makers.
- agricultural systems
- microbial communities