Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Baker, Beth

Committee Member

Brooks, John P.

Committee Member

Morin, Dana

Date of Degree


Document Type

Graduate Thesis - Open Access


Wildlife, Fisheries, and Aquaculture

Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.)


College of Forest Resources


Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Aquaculture


Traditionally, the analysis of soil health has overlooked the biological component of soil due to poor understanding of connections between the microbiome and empirically measured soil health indicators. The purpose of this study was to assess the effects of environmental and anthropogenic stressors on the soil microbiome, with the aim of identifying measurable soil biological indicators. Chosen soils were examined under distinct conditions to evaluate the effect of selected environmental and anthropogenic stressors on the microbiome. Soil biological responses were analyzed via enzymatic response, microbial functional genes, and microbial community. Environmental factors such as soil moisture and organic matter showed significant influence on the microbiome with each selected biological indicator showing importance. Anthropogenic factors provided various responses dependent largely on the nature of the soil amendment. This study demonstrates that in addition to traditional soil health indicators, soil biological indicators should be included in the process of determining healthy soils.