a1 Research Associate, Environmental Research Centre, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada T2N 1N4.
a2 Professor, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada T2N 1N4.
Diverse soil microbiological studies have attempted to assess deterioration or improvement in soil quality. These studies have been done on three levels: population level studies of the dynamics of species that are presumed to be important or sensitive; community level studies of microbial community structure, such as species diversity and frequency of occurence of species; and ecosystem level studies of a range of soil processes. We suggest that ecosystem level approaches offer the best possibilities for rapidly assessing changes in soil quality. Data from such studies will allow researchers to decide whether to proceed with population or community level studies.