Soils in Natural Landscapes  book cover
1st Edition

Soils in Natural Landscapes

ISBN 9781466594357
Published October 21, 2013 by CRC Press
319 Pages 76 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

In any complete investigation of terrestrial ecosystems, rocks and soils must be considered. Soils are essential resources, providing water and nutrients for vascular plants, and mitigating the flow of water from the land. In addition, soil diversity is critical for biotic diversity. While there are many references on the agricultural perspective of soils, there is a need for a basic soils book for those concerned with natural landscapes and ecosystems. Soils in Natural Landscapes fills this niche, providing a thorough introduction to the physics, chemistry, and biology of soils and their roles in local to global systems.

The book begins by describing the field of soils and the major roles of soils in natural landscapes. The chapters that follow cover a range of topics:

  • Soil parent material
  • Architecture of soils
  • Temperature and soils
  • Water, air, and climate
  • Classification of soils
  • Soil landscapes
  • Plant nutrition
  • Soil organisms
  • Organic matter in soils

The author also discusses global issues such as water and carbon cycles, global warming, and acid rain. He addresses land management for different uses, soil quality, and soil degradation. Using an interdisciplinary approach, this book provides practical insights for the evaluation of soils in natural environments and their non-intensive management.

Table of Contents

Soils, Landscapes and Ecosystems
Concepts of Soils
Soils from the Bottom Up and from the Top Down
Soils, Landscapes, and Ecosystems
A Global Perspective
Land Use
Land Management

Soil Parent Material, Weathering, and Primary Particles
Parent Material
Primary Soil Particles
Ion-exchange and the Soil Solution

Soil Architecture—Structural Units and Horizons
Soil Structure
Soil Pores and Soil Density
Soil Strength
Ecosystem Effects of Soil Structure
Soil Horizons and Pedons

Heat and Soil Temperature
Sources of Heat and Heat Transfer at the Surface of Earth
Soil Temperatures
Soil Temperature Regimes
Soil Temperature Effects

Soil Water, Air, and Climate
Infiltration of Water into Soils
Energy Status and Disposition of Water in Soils
Water Storage and Air in Soils
Movement of Water and Air in Soils
Evaporation and Transpiration
Composition of Air in the Soil Atmosphere
A Landscape Perspective
Global Patterns of Precipitation

Soil Classification—Kinds of Soils
Organisation of the USDA System, Soil Taxonomy
Diagnostic Horizons
Soil Temperature and Moisture Regimes
Order and Lower Levels of Soil Taxonomy
The World Reference Base (WRB)
Features of Soil in the 12 Orders of Soil Taxonomy
Global Distributions of Soils
Hydric Soils

Soils and Landscapes
Lithology and Stratigraphy
Landforms and Topography
Biota (Plants, Animals, and Other Living Organisms)
Plant Communities and Ecosystems
Soils and Time
Soils and Ecological Landscape Maps

Primary Production and Plant Nutrition
Primary Productivity
Plants in the Physical Environment and Photosynthesis
Role of Soils in Plant Nutrition
Potential Plant Productivity

Soil Organisms: Life in Soils
Faunal and Microorganism Habitats
Main Kinds of Organisms Living in Soils
Soil Ecology

Soil Organic Matter
Sources of Organic Matter and Its Composition in Plant Tissues
Decomposition of Organic Matter
Composition of Soil Organic Matter
Distributions of Soil Organic Matter
Functions of Soil Organic Matter

Soils and Global Processes
Crust of Earth
Free Water Balance
Carbon Cycle
Ancient Climates, Plants, Weathering, and Atmospheric CO2 and Methane
Nitrogen Cycle
Sulphur Cycle
Acid Rain, Water, and Soils
Phosphorus Cycle
Nutrient Cycling, Plant (Site) Productivity

Land Management and Soil Quality
Types of Use and Management for Different Land
Soil Degradation
Diversity of Plants and Animals
Soil Quality
Degraded Landscapes and Soils


Appendix A: Extensive and Intensive Properties and Flow of Heat, Air, and Water in Soils
Appendix B: Forms of Life
Appendix C: Notes on the Elemental Nutrition of Living Organisms
Appendix D: Rock Classification for Nongeologists
Appendix E: Naming the Suborders, Great Groups , and Subgroups in Soil Taxonomy
Appendix F: Taxonomic Names of the Plants

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Earl B. Alexander is a retired pedologist, if you can call writing books (first author of Serpentine Geoecology of Western North America) and professional papers retirement. He has a Ph.D. in soils and has worked for the Soil Conservation Service (now NRCS), the California (now Pacific Southwest) Forest and Range Experiment Station, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the University of Nevada, and three regions of the U.S. Forest Service. He has mapped and investigated soils in Ohio, Nicaragua, Honduras, Costa Rica, Colombia, Nevada, California, Oregon, Alaska, and other states and provinces in western North America. He has developed interpretations for evaluating soil conditions and expected soil behaviours and made and reviewed recommendations for land management. More than 75 of his papers have been published in professional journals.