Habitat classification and soil restoration assessment using analysis of microbiological and physico-chemical characteristics.

Published online
02 Jun 1995
Content type
Journal article
Journal title
Journal of Applied Ecology

Bentham, H. & Harris, J. A. & Birch, P. & Short, K. C.

Publication language


The identification of key microbiological and physicochemical soil characteristics which could be used to discriminate between different undisturbed habitats was studied using multivariate analysis and data from former opencast coal mine sites restored to grassland and woodland, and from comparable undisturbed habitats. Multiple range tests enabled statistically homogenous groups of sites to be identified for individual variables, but these were not sufficient to characterize the habitats alone. Principal component analysis resulted in >90% of the variance being accounted for by the first five components, for the total data set. Classification by means of cluster analysis, based on the principal components, discriminated between some of the habitat types. Clustering based on the three microbiological indices (soil dehydrogenase activity, ATP and ergosterol) discriminated between different types of habitat, which was not possible using soil physical and chemical characteristics alone. A method of habitat classification based on a three-dimensional ordination of soil microbiological properties is therefore suggested, which could be used to assess the restoration potential and progress of reclaimed soils.

Key words