Open Access Open Access  Restricted Access Subscription or Fee Access

Bioindicators: A Review

Hemalatha R


Bioindicators of natural quality are significantly utilized as a part of biological and ecotoxicological considers and additionally in applied ecological preservation. Bioindicator research is done in many levels to identify and segregate the effects of man-induced stressors from the effects of natural stressors. All three groups of organisms--microorganisms, plants and animals can play a vital role as indicators of environmental quality. Stress conditions and stress-induced damage can be sensed by using bioindicators. Biological indicators have been developed to analyze the impact of anthropogenic activities on the environment and have been applied to recent monitoring problems. Bioindicator systems are expected to play an important role in the evaluation of effects of environmental stressors.

Full Text:



J. Alphei. Differences in soil nematode community structure of beech forests: comparison between a mull and a moder soil, Appl Soil Ecol. 1998; 9: 9–15p.

T. Basedow. Effects of insecticides on Carabidae and the significance of these effects for agriculture and species number, In: The Role of Ground Beetles in Ecological and Environmental Studies. Stork E. (Ed.)., Andover, 1990, 115–25p.

M. Bayley, E. Baatrup, U. Heimbach, P. Bjerregaard. Elevated copper levels during larval development cause altered locomotor behaviour in the adult carabid beetle Pterostichus cupreus L. (Coleoptera: Carabidae), Ecotoxicol Environ Saf. 1995; 32: 166–70p.

A.J. Bednarska, R. Laskowski. Effects of nickel and temperature on the ground beetle Pterostichus oblongopunctatus (Coleoptera: Carabidae), Ecotoxicology. 2008; 17: 189–98p.

A.J. Bednarska, R. Laskowski. Environmental conditions enhance toxicant effects in larvae of the ground beetle Pterostichus oblongopunctatus (Coleoptera: Carabidae), Environ Pollut. 2009; 157: 1597–602p.

A.J. Bednarska, I. Portka, P.E. Kramarz, R. Laskowski. Combined effect of environmental pollutants (nickel, chlorpyrifos) and temperature on the ground beetle, Pterostichus oblongopunctatus (Coleoptera: Carabidae), Environ Toxicol Chem. 2008; 28: 864–72p.

S. Belaoussoff, P.G. Kevan, S. Murphy, C. Swanton. Assessing tillage disturbance on assemblages of ground beetles Coleoptera: Carabidae) by using a range of ecological indices, Biodiver Conserv. 2003; 12: 851–82p.

S. Blake, G.N. Foster, G.E.J. Fischer, G.L. Ligertwood. Effects of management practices on the ground beetle faunas of newly established wildflower meadows in southern Scotland, Ann Zool Fennici. 1996; 33: 139–47p.

S.D. Bridgham. Chronic effects of 2,29’-dichlorobiphenyl on reproduction, mortality, growth and respiration of Daphia pulicaria, Arch Environ Contaminat Toxicol. 1988; 17: 731–40p.

G.F. Bloemers. The effects of forest disturbance on diversity of tropical soil nematodes, Oecologia. 1997; 111: 575–82p.

H.G. Zechmeister. Correlation between altitude and heavy metal deposition in the Alps, Environ Pollut. 1995; 89: 73–80p.

G.W. Yeates. Feeding habits in nematode families and genera – an outline for soil ecologists, J Nematol. 1993; 25: 315–31p.

G.W. Yeates. Feeding in free-living soil nematodes: a functional approach, In: The Physiology and Biochemistry of Free-living and Plant–parasitic Nematodes. N.R. Perry, D.J. Wright, Eds., CAB International; 1998; 245–69p

G.W. Yeates. Modification and qualification of the nematode maturity index, Pedobiologia. 1994; 38: 97–101p.

W.H. Van der Putten, C. Van Dijk, B.A.M. Peters. Plant-specific soil-borne diseases contribute to succession in foredune vegetation, Nature. 1993; 362: 53–5p.

V. Wirth. Zeigerwerte von Flechten, Scr Botan. 1992; 18: 215–37p.

D.W.T. Au, C.Y. Lee, K.L. Chan, R.S.S. Wu. Reproductive impairment of sea urchins upon chronic exposure to cadmium Part I: effects on gamete quality, Environ Pollut. 2001; 111: 1–9p.

E.J. Wilson, T.C.E. Wells, T.H. Sparks. Are calcareous grasslands in the UK under threat from nitrogen deposition? – an experimental determination of a critical load, J Ecol. 1995; 83: 823–32p.

S. Sreeremya. Wetland conservation:Indian scenario-Review, Invertis J Renew Energy. 2016; 6(2): 1–4p.

S.I. Passy, R.W. Bode, D.M. Carlson, M.A. Novak. Comparative environmental assessment in the studies of benthic diatom, macroinvertebrate and fish communities, Int Rev. Hydrobiol. 2004; 89: 121–38p.

P.A. Parsons. Biodiversity conservation under global climatic-change – the insect Drosophila as a biological indicator, Global Ecol Biogeogr Let. 1991; 1: 77–83p.

Paoletti, M. G., and M. Bressan. 1996. Soil invertebrates as bioindicators of human disturbance. Critical Reviews in Plant Sciences 15:21–62.

M.G. Paoletti. The role of earthworms for assessment of sustainability and as bioindicators, Agric Ecosyst Environ. 1999a; 74: 137–55p.

M.G. Paoletti. Using bioindicators based on biodiversity to assess landscape sustainability, Agric Ecosyst Environ, 1999b; 74: 1–18p.

C. Meyer. Methodological challenges in monitoring bat population- and assemblage-level changes for anthropogenic impact assessment, Mamm Biol. 2015, this issue.

M.A. McGeoch. The selection, testing and application of terrestrial insects as bioindicators, Biol Rev. 1998; 73: 181–201p.

R. Leakey, R. Lewin. The Sixth Extinction: Biodiversity and Its survival. London: Phoenix; 1905.

B. Leung, M.R. Forbes, D. Houle. Fluctuating assymetry as a bioindicator of stress: comparing efficacy of analyses involving multiple traits, Am Natural. 2000; 155(1): 101–15p.

J.H. Lawton. What do species do in ecosystems? Oikos. 1994; 71: 367–74p.

H.E. Durham. A simple method for demonstrating the production of gas by bacteria, Brit Med J. 1893; 1: 1387p (cited by Hendricks (1978) 100p).

D.L. Pearson, F. Cassola. Worldwide species richness patterns of tiger beetles (Coleoptera, Cicindelidae) – indicator taxon for biodiversity and conservation studies, Conserv Biol. 1992; 6: 376–91p.

D.L. Pearson. Selecting indicator taxa for the quantitative assessment of biodiversity, Philos Trans R Soc Lond Ser B. 1994; 345: 75–9p.

O.J. Schwarz, L.W. Jones. Bioaccumulation of xenobiotic organic chemicals by terrestrial plants, Plants for Environmental Studies. W. Wang, J.W. Gorsuch, J.S. Hughes Eds., New York: Lewis Publishers; 1997, 417–40p.

H. Selye. The Stress of Life. New York, London: Academic Press; 1956.

M.G. Paoletti, M. Hassall. Woodlice (Isopoda: Oniscidea): their potential for assessing sustainability and use as bioindicators, Agric Ecosyst Environ. 1999; 74: 157–65p.

R. Wania, P. Hietz, W. Wanek. Natural 15N abundance of epiphytes depends on the position within the forest canopy: source signals and isotope fractionation, Plant Cell Environ. 2002; 25: 581–9p.

J.D. Weete. Fungal Lipid Biochemistry. New York: Plenum Press; 1974, 151–209p.

A. Clark. Landscape variables affecting livestock impacts on water quality in the humid temperate zone, Can J Plant Sci. 1998; 78: 181–90p.

S.M. Wilson, D.G. Pyatt, D.C. Malcolm, T. Connolly. The use of groud vegetation and humus type as indicators of soil nutrient regime for an ecological site classification of British forests, Forest Ecol Manage. 2001; 140: 101–16p.

A. Choanec, R. Raab. Dragonflies (Insects, Odonata) and the ecological status of newly created wetlands: examples for long-term bioindication programmes, Limnologica. 1997; 27(3-4): 381–92p.

C.M. Davies, J.A. Long, M. Donald, N.J. Ashbolt. Survival of fecal microorganisms in aquatic sediments of Sydney, Australia, Appl Environ Microbiol. 1995; 61: 1888–96p.

CAST (Council for Agriculture Science and Technology). 1992. Water quality: Agricultures role. Council for Agriculture Science and Technology, Task Force Report No.120. 103p.

T.R. Deetz, E.R. Smith, S.M. Goyal, C.P. Gerba, J.V. Vallet, H.L. Tsai, H.L. Dupont, B.H. Keswick. Occurrence of rota and enteroviruses in drinking and environmental waters in a developing nation, Wat Res. 1984; 18: 572–7p.

K.F. Eckner. Comparison of membrane filtration and multiple-tube fermentation by the Colilert and Enterolert methods for detection of waterborne coliform bacteria, Escherichia coli, and enterococci used in drinking and bathing water quality monitoring in Southern Sweden, Appl Environ Microbiol. 1998; 64: 3079–83p.

F. D'Herelle. The Bacteriophage and Its Behavior. English translation by G.H. Smith, Baltimore, MD: Williams and Wilkins; 1926.

A.P. Dufour. Escherichia coli: the fecal coliform, In: Bacterial Indicators/Health Hazards Associated with Water. PA: American Society for Testing and Materials; 1977, 48–58p.

R. Herzig, M. Urech. Flechten als Bioindikatoren. Integriertes biologisches Messystem der Luftverschmutzung für das Schweizer Mittelland, J Cramer Verlag, Berlin. 1991; 283p.

B.K. Keeley, M.D. Tuttle. Bats in American Bridges. Austin, TX: Bat Conservation International, Resource Publication; 1999.

J.M. Hallawell. Biological Indicators of Freshwater Pollution and Environmental Management. London: Elsevier; 1986.

S.C. Edberg, M.J. Allen, D.B. Smith. Defined substrate technology method for rapid and specific simultaneous enumeration of total coliforms and Escherichia coli from water: collaborative study, J Assoc Off Anal Chem. 1991; 74: 526–9p.

G. Gunkel (Ed.). Bioindikation in aquatischen Ökosystemen. Bioindikation in limnischen und küstennahen Ökosystemen-Grundlagen, Verfahren und Methoden. 1994; 540p.

H. Hämäläinen. Critical appraisal of the indexes of chironomid larval deformities and their use in bioindication, Ann Zool Fennici. 1999; 36: 179–86p.

S.K. Das, D. Biswas, S. Roy. Phytoplanktonic community of organically polluted tropical reservoirs in Eastern India, Chin J Appl Environ Biol. 2007; 13(4): 449–53p.

A. Kiefer, F. Mayer, J. Kosuch, O. von Helversen, M. Veith. Conflicting molecular phylogenies of European longeared bats (Plecotus) can be explained by cryptic diversity, Mol Phylogenet Evol. 2002; 25: 557–66p.

D.H. Kelm, K. Wiesner, O. von Helversen. Effects of artificial roosts for frugivorous bats on seed dispersal in a neotropical forest pasture mosaic, Conserv Biol. 2008; 22: 733–41p.

T.E. Clark, M.J. Samways. Dragonflies (Odonata) as indicators of biotype quality in the Kruger national Park, South Africa, J Appl Ecol. 1996; 33: 1001–12p.

A.A. King, C.D. Meredith, G.R. Thompson. The biology of southern African lyssavirus variants, Curr Top Microbiol Immunol. 1994; 187: 267–95p.

T. Kingston, S.J. Rossiter. Harmonic-hopping in Wallacea’s bats, Nature. 2004; 429: 654–7p.

G. Carchini, E. Rota. Chemico-physical data on the habits of rheophile Odonata from central Italy, Odonatologica. 1985; 14: 239–45p.

F.L. Carle. Environmental monitoring potential of the Odonata, with a list of rare and endangered Anisoptera of Virginia, USA, Odonatologica. 1979; 8: 319–23p.

T. Kokurewicz. Increased population of Daubenton’s bat (Myotis daubentonii, Kuhl 1819) (Chiroptera, Vespertilionidae) in Poland, Myotis. 1995; 32-33: 155–61p.

T.V. Desikachary, A Monograph on Cyanophyta. Indian Council of Agricultural Research Publication, New Delhi, India; 1959.

T.H. Kunz. Censusing bats: challenges, solutions, and sampling biases. In: O’Shea TJ, Bogan MA (eds) Monitoring trends in bat populations of the United States and territories: problems and prospects. US Geological Survey, Biological Resources Division, Information and Technology Report. USGS/BRD/ITR-2003-003, Washington, DC, 2003, 9–20p.

P. Koskimies. Birds as a tool in environmental monitoring, Ann Zool Fenn. 1989; 26: 153–66p.

T.H. Kunz. Roosting ecology of bats, In: Ecology of Bats. T.H. Kunz (Ed). New York: Plenum Press; 1982, 1–55p.

T.H. Kunz. Obligate and opportunistic interactions of old world tropical bats and plants, In: Conservation and Faunal Biodiversity in Malaysia. Z.A. Hasan, A. Zubaid (Eds). Penerbit Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur, 1996, 37–65p.

T. Kingston, M. Lara, G. Jones, C. Schneider, A. Zubaid, T.H. Kunz. Acoustic divergence in two cryptic Hipposideros species: a role for sexual selection, Proc R Soc Ser B Biol Sci. 2001; 268: 1381–6p.

B.T. Klingbeil, M.R. Willig. Multi-scale responses of frugivorous and gleaning animalivorous bats to landscape composition and configuration in fragmented landscapes of lowland Amazonia, J Appl Ecol. 2009; 46: 203–13p.


  • There are currently no refbacks.