Bioindicators of soil quality
Convener: Teresa Dias 
 / Wed, 24 Sep, 13:30–14:30  / Room B
 / Attendance Wed, 24 Sep, 17:00–19:00  / Display Wed, 24 Sep, 08:30–19:00  / Foyer

Recognizing soil as a hot-spot of biodiversity is just the first step towards a more ecological consideration of soil functions. The invention of synthetic fertilizers has led to the view that soils, when impregnated with nutrients, are inert supports for plant life. Nowadays the inherent productivity of many lands has been dramatically reduced as a result of this view associated with soil erosion, salinity, chemical contamination and biodiversity loss. The key to understanding the dynamics of life-supporting elements such as C, N, and P lies in the fluxes between their various forms in the environment, modulated by soil biology. Today we know that soil constituents can be processed and transformed by a diverse soil microbial community, which provides an energy-efficient, non-leaky, self-regulating system that can adapt to changing environments.

An intact, self-restoring soil ecosystem is essential to support life on Earth.

Given that soil is a non-renewable resource (at least in the human timeframe), but that the activity and composition of the organisms living in soil (soil biodiversity) are very responsive to environmental changes, the use of indicators of soil quality based on soil biodiversity is emerging as a useful tool to characterize and model soil responses to distinct types of soil use and management.

The challenge is to find the most suitable indicators according to soil functions, types and edaphoclimatic conditions.