Parelho, C., Rodrigues, A. & Garcia, P.V. (2018) Biomonitoring soil health in agricultural volcanic areas - an integrative approach. Proceedings of the Global Symposium on Soil Pollution 2018, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 453-457. Rome, Italy. ISBN:978-92-5-130863-9.
Volcanic soils are unique fertile resources, with unusual andic properties that place them as highly suited, as well as vulnerable, to agricultural practices. This study emerges as an integrative approach to provide advanced knowledge about the health status of volcanic soils. Key indicator species, exposed in situ/ex situ to agricultural volcanic soils, were selected and sensitive biomarkers were determined at different levels of biological organization (molecular, subcellular, cellular and tissue level), to integrate information about the presence (biomarkers of exposure), bioavailability and biological effects (biomarkers of effect) of soil pollutants in agricultural systems. The results clearly reveal that the unique chemical heritage observed in the agricultural volcanic soils, resulting from the volcanic parent material (geogenic origin) and modulated by agricultural land use history (anthropogenic origin), leads to stressful conditions to the resident biota, compromising the local soil health status and provision of soil-based ecosystem services. Meanwhile, the degree of such stress and its effects are related not only with soil physicochemical properties, management practices, type and/or amount of agrochemicals input, but also with the organism in which those stress is measured and its ecological role in these humanized (agro)ecosystems. Each of the selected indicators (soil physicochemical characteristics, biomarkers from belowground biota and small mammals) had a specific and relative contribution to the overall soil health “puzzle”. The implications of this study outcomes go far beyond the warning about the impact of agricultural practices in soil biology, by setting the scientific foundations upon on which management risk actions should be erected, as well as defined agricultural and land use policies adjusted to volcanic soils particularities.