soil ecology


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Soil ecology

The study of the interactions among soil organisms, and between biotic and abiotic aspects of the soil environment. Soil is made up of a multitude of physical, chemical, and biological entities, with many interactions occurring among them. Soil is a variable mixture of broken and weathered minerals and decaying organic matter. Together with the proper amounts of air and water, it supplies, in part, sustenance for plants as well as mechanical support.

Abiotic and biotic factors lead to certain chemical changes in the top few decimeters (8–10 in.) of soil. The work of the soil ecologist is made easier by the fact that the surface 10–15 cm (4–6 in.) of the A horizon has the majority of plant roots, microorganisms, and fauna. A majority of the biological-chemical activities occur in this surface layer.

The biological aspects of soil range from major organic inputs, decomposition by primary decomposers (bacteria, fungi, and actinomycetes), and interactions between microorganisms and fauna (secondary decomposers) which feed on them. The detritus decomposition pathway occurs on or within the soil after plant materials (litter, roots, sloughed cells, and soluble compounds) become available through death or senescence. Plant products are used by microorganisms (primary decomposers). These are eaten by the fauna which thus affect flows of nutrients, particularly nitrogen, phosphorus, and sulfur. The immobilization of nutrients into plants or microorganisms and their subsequent mineralization are critical pathways. The labile inorganic pool is the principal one that permits subsequent microorganism and plant existence. Scarcity of some nutrient often limits production. Most importantly, it is the rates of flux into and out of these labile inorganic pools which enable ecosystems to successfully function. See Ecology, Ecosystem, Guild, Soil, Systems ecology

soil ecology

[′sȯil i‚käl·ə·jē]
(ecology)
The study of interactions among soil organisms and interactions between biotic and abiotic aspects of the soil environment.
References in periodicals archive ?
in soil ecology and entomology from the University of Mainz in 2012.
Analyses of nematode communities combined the functions of ecosystems are of interest in assessing soil ecology [31, 32].
It is hoped the results will enable farmers to use different species of grass that will improve soil ecology and sustainability.
alternatives on soil ecology and soil-vegetation dynamics (Boerner et al.
The book also includes sections on the application of biochemistry and biogeochemistry to soil organic formation and the connections between soil ecology and global food supply, climate change and other societal needs.
At evaluation of the soil mantle condition, the soil evaluation and soil ecology indexes are used most often [1,10].
Some of these findings have appeared in Agronomy Journal and Applied Soil Ecology.
Major themes are agriculture, biodiversity, ecosystem services, integrated soil ecology research, and policy.
Mr Crowther is due to begin a four-year post-doctoral research placement at Yale University next year, working with Professor Mark Bradford, one of the world's leaders in soil ecology.
Wolfe, PhD is Professor of Plant and Soil Ecology in the Department of Horticulture at Cornell University.
It is also good for soil ecology and provides a boost to soil nutrients, which reduces the use of inorganic fertilizers, saving farmers money.