Application of biological indicators to assess recovery of hydrocarbon impacted soils

Julian James Charles Dawson, E. J. Godsiffe, I. P. Thompson, T. K. Ralebitso-Senior, Kenneth Stuart Killham, Graeme Iain Paton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

111 Citations (Scopus)


Remediation programmes are considered complete when human risk-based criteria are met. These targets are unrelated to the ecological parameters that may be important with regard to future soil uses. As a consequence, there has been a move towards the consideration of biological indicators for hazard assessment in conjunction with the remediation of contaminated soils. This study uses a range of biological assays to assess the ecological health of soils from a former gas works site undergoing various remediation treatments. The indicators that optimally differentiated the extent of soil remediation were biomass-C, respiration, dehydrogenase activity, earthworm toxicity and mustard seed germination. Although they had different end-points, once robust and sensitive biological indicators were incorporated into a quantitative soil quality index, they gave a clearer representation of ecological health than chemical data alone by their integration of contamination effects at a number of trophic levels.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)164-177
Number of pages14
JournalSoil Biology and Biochemistry
Issue number1
Early online date14 Aug 2006
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2007


  • hydrocarbons
  • biological indicators
  • remediation
  • soil quality index
  • polycyclic aromatic-hydrocarbons
  • direct extraction method
  • microbial biomass-C
  • contaminated soil
  • heavy-metals
  • biochemical-properties
  • ecotoxicity assessment
  • catabolic diversity
  • forest soils
  • diesel fuel


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