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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: ECOLOGICALLY-BASED SOIL MANAGEMENT FOR SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE AND RESOURCE CONSERVATION Title: Soil Function and the Dynamics of Soil Change

Author
item Cambardella, Cynthia

Submitted to: ASA-CSSA-SSSA Annual Meeting Abstracts
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: October 5, 2008
Publication Date: October 5, 2008
Citation: Cambardella, C.A. 2008. Soil Function and the Dynamics of Soil Change [CD-ROM]. In: ASA-CSSA-SSSA Annual Meeting Abstracts, Oct. 5-9, 2008, Houston, TX.

Technical Abstract: Ecosystems perform fundamental services that function to recycle nutrients, regulate hydrological processes, control erosion, and detoxify wastes. Renewal processes are carried out by communities of microorganisms that interact with plants, animals, and the physical environment. The ability of an ecosystem to continue to provide these services depends on the maintenance of biological diversity. Functional biodiversity may be more critical to ecosystem stability than taxonomic biodiversity. An important service provided by belowground ecosystems is the heterotrophic decomposition of organic matter and the concomitant recycling of plant available nutrients. Energy, carbon and nutrients are cycled through soil organic matter, primarily through the activity of bacteria and fungi. Soil nematodes, protozoa and amoebae contribute to nutrient recycling and translocation subsequent to ingesting bacteria and fungi. Decomposition processes are controlled by soil microclimate variables, such as moisture, temperature, and oxygen content, by intrinsic soil properties, such as soil texture and pH, and by the quality of the organic substrate available to the decomposers. High-input, intensive management tends to produce ecologically simplified systems that favor bacterial-pathways of decomposition, dominated by labile substrates and opportunistic, bacterial-feeding fauna. Low-input management tends to produce a more heterogeneous, complex habitat and resource base and systems that favor fungal-pathways dominated by fungal-feeding soil microfauna. The enhancement of functional biodiversity is an important ecological strategy in the development of long-term sustainable management strategies.

Last Modified: 7/25/2014
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