Examining assumptions of soil microbial ecology in the monitoring of ecological restoration.
1. Global interest in building healthy soils combined with new DNA sequencing technologies has led to the generation of a vast amount of soil microbial community (SMC) data. 2. SMC analysis is being adopted widely for monitoring ecological restoration trajectories. However, despite the large and growing quantity of soil microbial data, it remains unclear how these data inform and best guide restoration practice. 3. Here, we examine assumptions around SMC as a tool for guiding ecosystem restoration and evaluate the effectiveness of using species inventories of SMC as a benchmark for restoration success. 4. We investigate other approaches of assessing soil health, and conclude that we can significantly enhance the utility of species inventory data for ecological restoration by complementing it with the use of non-molecular approaches.