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Does changing the taxonomical resolution alter the value of soil macroinvertebrates as bioindicators of metal pollution?

Abstract : Ecological indicators are taxa that are affected by, and indicate effects of, anthropogenic environmental stress or disturbance on ecosystems. There is evidence that some species of soil macrofauna (i.e. diameter >2 mm) constitute valuable biological indicators of certain types of soil perturbations. This study aims to determine which level of taxonomic resolution, (species, family or ecological group) is the best to identify indicator of soil disturbance. Macrofauna were sampled in a set of sites encompassing different land-use systems (e.g. forests, pastures, crops) and different levels of pollution. Indicator taxa were sought using the IndVal index proposed by Dufrêne and Legendre [Dufrêne, M., Legendre, P., 1997. Species assemblages and indicator species: the need for a flexible asymetrical approach. Ecological Monographs 67, 345–366]. This approach is based on a hierarchical typology of sites. The index value changes along the typology and decreases (increases) for generalist (specialist) faunal units (species, families or ecological groups). Of the 327 morphospecies recorded, 19 were significantly associated with a site type or a group of sites (5.8%). Similarly, species were aggregated to form 59 families among which 17 (28.8%) displayed a significant indicator value. Gathering species into 28 broad ecological assemblages led to 14 indicator groups (50%). Beyond the simple proportion of units having significant association with a given level of the site typology, the proportion of specialist and generalist groups changed dramatically when the level of taxonomic resolution was altered. At the species level 84% of the indicator units were specialist, whereas this proportion decreased to 70 and 43% when families and ecological groups were considered. Because specialist groups are the most interesting type of indicators either in terms of conservation or for management purposes we come to the conclusion that the species level is the most accurate taxonomic level in bioindication studies although it requires a high amount of labour and operator knowledge and is time-consuming
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Johanne Nahmani, Patrick Lavelle, Jean-Pierre Rossi. Does changing the taxonomical resolution alter the value of soil macroinvertebrates as bioindicators of metal pollution?. Soil Biology and Biochemistry, Elsevier, 2006, 38 (2), pp.385-396. ⟨10.1016/j.soilbio.2005.04.037⟩. ⟨hal-02655341⟩

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