1st Edition

Soils in Natural Landscapes

By Earl B. Alexander Copyright 2014
    319 Pages 76 B/W Illustrations
    by CRC Press

    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.

    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


    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.