, Volume 13, Issue 8, pp 817-822

First online:

Critical Analysis of Soil Invertebrate Biomarkers: A Field Case Study in Avonmouth, UK

  • Jason M. WeeksAffiliated withCentre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Sciences (CEFAS) Email author 
  • , David J. SpurgeonAffiliated withCentre for Ecology and Hydrology, Monks Wood, Abbots Ripton, Huntingdon
  • , Claus SvendsenAffiliated withCentre for Ecology and Hydrology, Monks Wood, Abbots Ripton, Huntingdon
  • , Peter K. HankardAffiliated withCentre for Ecology and Hydrology, Monks Wood, Abbots Ripton, Huntingdon
  • , Jan E. KammengaAffiliated withLaboratory of Nematology, Wageningen University
  • , Reinhard DallingerAffiliated withInstitut für Zoologie und Limnologie (Abteilung Ökophysiologie) der, Universität Innsbruck
  • , Heinz-R. KöhlerAffiliated withCell Biology, Zoological Institute, University of Tübingen
  • , Vibeke SimonsenAffiliated withNational Environmental Research Institut
  • , Janeck Scott-FordsmandAffiliated withNational Environmental Research Institut

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During the period 1996–1999 a joint field research programme (BIOPRINT-II) funded by the European Union was undertaken. The main objective of this project was the deployment of biochemical fingerprint techniques of soil invertebrate biomarkers for assessing the exposure and effect of toxicants on soil invertebrates in the field. The aim was to apply these techniques in the field focusing on a a chronically polluted field near a lead and zinc smelter in Avonmouth (UK). Therefore six sites were selected from which organisms were either sampled or transplanted to or from the laboratory. The project has provided a unique opportunity to apply a series of biological test methodologies in order to determine the hazard posed to soil sustainability and by inference soil biodiversity and function. This work has attempted to understand the linkage between effects measured at the molecular or cellular level and relate these to changes at higher levels of biological organisation. Here we evaluated the links between biomarkers and soil function parameters. The paper aims to summarize and explore the necessary caveats that must be understood before soil biomarker test systems may be used to strengthen the risk assessment process.


biomarkers soil invertebrates