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A biological classification concept for the assessment of soil quality: “biological soil classification scheme” (BBSK)

Ruf, A., Beck, L., Dreher, P., Hund-Rinke, K., Römbke, J., Spelda, J.
Agriculture, ecosystems & environment 2003 v.98 no.1-3 pp. 263-271
soil ecology, soil classification, taxonomy, Isopoda, soil quality, predatory mites, soil, Sarcoptiformes, earthworms, mosses and liverworts, Diplopoda, forests
The protection of soils as habitat for soil organisms which is ascertained in the German soil protection act calls for the development of a broad, holistic approach with biological objectives. As a first step towards establishing a system that meets these criteria, two pilot studies have been conducted. The scope of these studies was to investigate whether there were characteristic soil fauna communities for specific sites or for pedologically defined groups of sites. We sampled the macrofauna groups earthworms, chilopods, diplopods, and isopods and the mesofauna groups enchytraeids, predatory mites (Gamasina), and moss mites (Oribatida). We could show that there were typical soil fauna communities that belong to specific site groups, e.g. acid forests or agricultural sites. The recorded patterns were more distinct the more taxa were incorporated in the analyses. The macrofauna alone gave good results but did not differentiate within the main site groups. Earthworms separated the open sites from the forests, whereas the arthropods differentiated within the forest sites. Mesofauna taxa added valuable information to the macrofauna results. We concluded that macro- and mesofauna together form site specific species assemblages that may be used for defining typical soil fauna communities for specific soils. This site specific soil fauna community can be used as a reference for assessing biological soil quality.