Standard methods for the assessment of structural and functional diversity of soil organisms

Critical review: Standard methods for the assessment of structural and functional diversity of soil organisms

The lack of standardised methods to study soil organisms prevents comparisons across datasets and hampers the development of new global and regional experiments and assessments. Standardised methods are also needed to evaluate the impact of anthropogenic stressors, such as chemicals, on soil organism communities in the regulatory context. The objective of this critical review is to summarise current methodological approaches to measure structural and functional diversity of soil organisms, and to identify gaps and methodological improvements. Therefore, applied or proposed standard methods to sample, identify, determine, and assess soil organisms were evaluated using criteria such as ecological relevance, practicability in terms of resources, time and costs, and the level of standardisation. Methods addressing both the structure and functions of soil organisms (populations or communities) were included, with a special focus on new molecular methods based on nucleic acid extraction and further analyses by PCR‐based approaches. Activities of the Technical Committee 190 of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) are highlighted. Finally, detailed recommendations are made regarding gaps in the available set of standards, in order to identify a list of new methods to be standardised. It is suggested to organise this process under the Global Soil Biodiversity Initiative (GSBI) in order to ensure a truly global approach for the assessment of soil biodiversity.

For additional information, see the publication in Integrated Environmental Assessment and Management:

Römbke, J., Bernard, J., Martin‐Laurent, F. (2018). Standard methods for the assessment of structural and functional diversity of soil organisms: a review. Integrated Environmental Assessment and Management, in press.

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