Microarthropod Communities as a Tool to Evaluate Soil Quality in Tea Agroecosystem: The Biological Quality of Soil Index

IJEP 42(6): 670-675 : Vol. 42 Issue. 6 (June 2022)

Saddam Syed and D.C. Ray*

Assam University, Soil Ecology Laboratory, Department of Ecology and Environmental Science, Silchar – 788 011, Assam, India


Attention has been given to the concepts of soil quality and soil health as a result of the implementation of sustainable development goals. Soil quality is the capacity of soil to sustain and function effectively as a component of healthy environment. The present study was conducted to assess soil quality with the use of soil microarthropods as indicated by biological quality of soil (QBS-ar) index in two tea agroecosystems with different agronomic practices, namely organic and conventional, located in south Assam.The QBS index is an approach to evaluate soil quality based on the microarthropod fauna present in the edaphic environment. Each type that occurred in the soil samples is given a score ranging from 1-20 called eco-morphological index, based on its adaptation level in the soil environment. The QBS values are slightly higher or similar in the organically managed system as compared to the conventionally managed one. The soil quality of the organic site ranged from medium to very good while that of conventional site was medium only during the sampling periods. The study encourages application of indicator values based on microarthropods to soil quality, management and conservation studies.


Biological soil quality index, Eco-morphological index, Microarthropods, Biological quality of soil (QBS-ar), Soil quality


  1. Altieri, M. A. 1999. The ecological role of biodi-versity in agroecosystems. Agric. Ecosys. Env., 74: 19–31.
  2. Lavelle, P., 2000. Ecological challenges for soil science. Soil Sci., 165: 73–86.
  3. Menta, C. et al. 2011. Are grasslands important habitats for soil microarthropod conservation? Biodivers. Conser., 20: 1073–1087.
  4. Lavelle, P., et al. 2006. Soil invertebrates and ecosystem services. European J. Soil Biol., 42: 3-15.
  5. Bastida, F., et al. 2008. Past, present and future of soil quality indices: a biological perspective. Geoderma., 147: 159–171.
  6. Devillers, J., P. Pandard and A.M. Charissou. 2009. multicriteria selection of bioindicators of soil quality. Etude Gestion Sols. 16: 233–242.
  7. Paoletti, M., et al. 1991. Invertebrates as bioin-dicators of soil use. Agric. Ecosys. Env., 34: 341–362.
  8. van Straalen, N. M. 1998. Evaluation of bioindicator systems derived from soil arthropod communities. Appl. Soil Ecol., 9: 429–437.
  9. Havlicek, E. 2012. Soil biodiversity and bioin-dication: from complex thinking to simple acting. European J. Soil Biol., 49: 80–84.
  10. Parisi, V. 2001. Biological quality of soil: A method based on microarthropods. Acta Natura-lia de l’Ateneo Parmense., 37: 97–106.
  11. Parisi, et al. 2005. Microarthropod communities as a tool to assess soil quality and biodiversity: a new approach in Italy. Agric. Ecosys. Env., 105: 323–333.
  12. Lakshmi, G. and A. Joseph. 2016. Soil micro-arthropods as indicators of soil quality of tropical home gardens in a village in Kerala, India. Agroforest. Syst., 91(3): 1-12.
  13. Menta, C., et al. 2018. Soil biological quality index (QBS-ar): 15 years of application at global scale. Ecol. Indicator. 85: 773–780.
  14. Arya, N. 2013. Growth and development of tea industry in Assam. Int. J. Sci. Eng. Res., 4(7): 226-273.
  15. Murphy, P.W. 1962. The split funnel extracter- A modified Tullgren funnel. In Progress in soil zoology. Ed W. Murphy. Butterworths, London.
  16. Allen, S.E. 1974. Chemical analysis of ecological materials (1st edn). Blackwell Scientific Publica tions, Oxford.
  17. Jackson, M.L. 1958. Soil chemical analysis. Prentice-Hall Inc., New Jersey, USA.
  18. Jerez-Valle, C., et al. 2014. A simple bioindication method to discriminate olive orchard management types using the soil arthropod fauna. Appl. Soil Ecol., 76: 42–51.
  19. Simoni, S., et al. 2013. Abundance and biodiversity of soil arthropods in one conventional and two organic fields of maize in stockless arable systems. Redia., 96: 37–44.
  20. Mazzoncini, M., et al. 2010. Comparison of organic and conventional stockless arable systems: a multidisciplinary approach to soil quality evaluation. Appl. Soil Ecol., 44: 124–132.
  21. Gagnarli, E., et al. 2015. Case study of microar-thropod communities to assess soil quality in different managed vineyards. Soil. 1: 527-536.
  22. Mantoni, C., M.D. Musciano and S. Fattorini. 2020. Use of microarthropods to evaluate the impact of fire on soil biological quality. J. Env. Manage., 266: 110624.