Forum für Wissenschaft, Industrie und Wirtschaft

Hauptsponsoren:     3M 
Datenbankrecherche:

 

Save the Dirt: Researchers find pristine soils losing out to farming and development

22.09.2003


A new study by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, may lead some people to rethink the phrase, "common as dirt." A new paper published in the journal Ecosystems finds that certain soils - like certain plants and animals - are becoming increasingly rare, with some at risk of becoming extinct.


The China Hat formation, north of the new UC Merced campus, is the last remaining landscape of its type in California, and contains arguably the best mima mounds and vernal pools in the state. The soil is an estimated 4 million years old. (Ron Amundson photo)


Map illustrates the distribution of agriculture and urban land use in the United States, and the resulting distribution of soil series that have lost 50 percent or more of their original area to land use.



In agricultural regions, such as in the Midwest, up to 80 percent of soils considered rare have been reduced to less than half of their original extent. That is, more than half of the soil has been converted to agriculture or urban uses.

... mehr zu:
»Ressource


"Over the past two centuries, we have reconfigured part of a continent to the point where today’s landscape is almost unrecognizable from its natural state," said Ronald Amundson, professor of ecosystem sciences at UC Berkeley’s College of Natural Resources and lead author of the paper. "The Great Plains used to be characterized by tall grasses and prairies. They have now been replaced by crops and housing tracts."

Like their plant and animal counterparts, soils have their own taxonomy. In the United States, there are 11 soil orders that are ultimately divided into 13,129 series. A soil series is comparable to a plant or animal species. Soils that comprise less than 25,000 acres are considered rare. What the report calls "rare-unique" soils exist only in one state and comprise less than 25,000 acres. The researchers considered a rare or rare-unique soil endangered if more than half of its area was tilled, excavated or otherwise disturbed.

The researchers found 508 endangered soil series in the United States. Six states have more than half of their rare soil series in an endangered state, with Indiana leading the group at 82 percent, followed closely by Iowa at 81 percent. Most of the soil danger hotspots reside in the country’s agricultural heartland.

The researchers also found that 31 soils are effectively extinct because they have been nearly completely converted to agricultural or land use.

Why the concern over undisturbed, virgin soil? As the foundation of terrestrial ecosystems, soils form an intimate bond with the plants and animals they support, said Amundson. Rare plants have evolved to inhabit rare soils, such as those that are highly acidic or low in nutrients. An area of very ancient and nutrient-poor soils near the town of Ione, Calif., for example, provides the habitat for four species of endemic plants, including the Amador Rock Rose and the Irish Hill buckwheat. The plants are listed in the "Inventory of Rare and Endangered Vascular Plants of California," and are not found naturally anywhere else in the country.

In essence, soil diversity is tied to biological diversity, said Amundson.

But tilling the soil changes its biogeochemistry by stimulating microorganisms to quickly metabolize the soil’s organic matter for food. The disturbance of the soil impacts the plants and animals that depend upon it, the researchers said.

"Soil that has been cultivated is like an animal that has been domesticated," said Amundson. "It retains some resemblance to its wild or native ancestor, but there are enormous and profound changes in its characteristics."

Research has also shown that the process of digging up soil produces carbon dioxide, which contributes to the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. "Soil has more carbon in the form of organic matter than all the plants in the world," said Amundson.

Cultivating the soil breaks up the organic matter, making it available as food for microorganisms such as bacteria and fungi. The process of breaking down the organic matter releases a significant amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Twenty percent of the carbon dioxide added to the atmosphere by human activity is related to land-use activities such as burning forests and farming, said Amundson.

To conduct this study, Amundon and the other researchers combined data from digitized maps on soil types compiled by the U.S. National Resource Conservation Service with information from maps of agricultural and urban growth provided by the U.S. Geological Survey and the Environmental Protection Agency.

"Never before has soil in the United States been analyzed in such a way," said Peng Gong, professor of ecosystem sciences at UC Berkeley’s College of Natural Resources and co-author of the paper. "Our study is the country’s first quantitative analysis of soil diversity."

Standing at the forefront of soil activism, the researchers argue for the preservation of rare and unique soils. "Soil might harbor microbial life that has benefits unknown to us today," said Amundson.

The research of the late soil scientist Selman Waksman may be one of the best examples of the contributions possible from soil research. Observing that soils do not become contaminated when diseased bodies are buried in the ground, Waksman set out to isolate soil microorganisms that produced natural antibiotics. His research led to the discovery of streptomycin, the first antibiotic that was effective in treating tuberculosis, for which he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1952.

"We certainly need land to farm and develop. I’m not advocating the discontinuation of agricultural expansion," said Amundson. "But I think it’d be fair to set aside modest areas of these remaining natural landscapes for study and contemplation."

"Some of these soils developed over thousands to millions of years," added Gong. "We can destroy that in a few hours. It’s a preservation issue. We need to save it for future generations."

The study was also co-authored by Yin Yang Guo, a former post-doctoral researcher at UC Berkeley’s Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management. The Kearney Foundation of Soil Science funded the research.

Sarah Yang | UC Berkeley
Weitere Informationen:
http://www.berkeley.edu/news/media/releases/2003/09/18_dirt.shtml

Weitere Berichte zu: Ressource

Weitere Nachrichten aus der Kategorie Agrar- Forstwissenschaften:

nachricht Julius Kühn-Institut etabliert Forschungszentrum für landwirtschaftliche Fernerkundung (FLF)
22.03.2017 | Julius Kühn-Institut, Bundesforschungsinstitut für Kulturpflanzen

nachricht Im Drohnenflug dem Wasser auf der Spur
03.03.2017 | Leibniz-Zentrum für Agrarlandschaftsforschung (ZALF) e.V.

Alle Nachrichten aus der Kategorie: Agrar- Forstwissenschaften >>>

Die aktuellsten Pressemeldungen zum Suchbegriff Innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Entwicklung miniaturisierter Lichtmikroskope - „ChipScope“ will ins Innere lebender Zellen blicken

Das Institut für Halbleitertechnik und das Institut für Physikalische und Theoretische Chemie, beide Mitglieder des Laboratory for Emerging Nanometrology (LENA), der Technischen Universität Braunschweig, sind Partner des kürzlich gestarteten EU-Forschungsprojektes ChipScope. Ziel ist es, ein neues, extrem kleines Lichtmikroskop zu entwickeln. Damit soll das Innere lebender Zellen in Echtzeit beobachtet werden können. Sieben Institute in fünf europäischen Ländern beteiligen sich über die nächsten vier Jahre an diesem technologisch anspruchsvollen Projekt.

Die zukünftigen Einsatzmöglichkeiten des neu zu entwickelnden und nur wenige Millimeter großen Mikroskops sind äußerst vielfältig. Die Projektpartner haben...

Im Focus: A Challenging European Research Project to Develop New Tiny Microscopes

The Institute of Semiconductor Technology and the Institute of Physical and Theoretical Chemistry, both members of the Laboratory for Emerging Nanometrology (LENA), at Technische Universität Braunschweig are partners in a new European research project entitled ChipScope, which aims to develop a completely new and extremely small optical microscope capable of observing the interior of living cells in real time. A consortium of 7 partners from 5 countries will tackle this issue with very ambitious objectives during a four-year research program.

To demonstrate the usefulness of this new scientific tool, at the end of the project the developed chip-sized microscope will be used to observe in real-time...

Im Focus: Das anwachsende Ende der Ordnung

Physiker aus Konstanz weisen sogenannte Mermin-Wagner-Fluktuationen experimentell nach

Ein Kristall besteht aus perfekt angeordneten Teilchen, aus einer lückenlos symmetrischen Atomstruktur – dies besagt die klassische Definition aus der Physik....

Im Focus: Wegweisende Erkenntnisse für die Biomedizin: NAD⁺ hilft bei Reparatur geschädigter Erbinformationen

Eine internationale Forschergruppe mit dem Bayreuther Biochemiker Prof. Dr. Clemens Steegborn präsentiert in 'Science' neue, für die Biomedizin wegweisende Forschungsergebnisse zur Rolle des Moleküls NAD⁺ bei der Korrektur von Schäden am Erbgut.

Die Zellen von Menschen und Tieren können Schäden an der DNA, dem Träger der Erbinformation, bis zu einem gewissen Umfang selbst reparieren. Diese Fähigkeit...

Im Focus: Designer-Proteine falten DNA

Florian Praetorius und Prof. Hendrik Dietz von der Technischen Universität München (TUM) haben eine neue Methode entwickelt, mit deren Hilfe sie definierte Hybrid-Strukturen aus DNA und Proteinen aufbauen können. Die Methode eröffnet Möglichkeiten für die zellbiologische Grundlagenforschung und für die Anwendung in Medizin und Biotechnologie.

Desoxyribonukleinsäure – besser bekannt unter der englischen Abkürzung DNA – ist die Trägerin unserer Erbinformation. Für Prof. Hendrik Dietz und Florian...

Alle Focus-News des Innovations-reports >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

IHR
JOB & KARRIERE
SERVICE
im innovations-report
in Kooperation mit academics
Veranstaltungen

Industriearbeitskreis »Prozesskontrolle in der Lasermaterialbearbeitung ICPC« lädt nach Aachen ein

28.03.2017 | Veranstaltungen

Neue Methoden für zuverlässige Mikroelektronik: Internationale Experten treffen sich in Halle

28.03.2017 | Veranstaltungen

Wie Menschen wachsen

27.03.2017 | Veranstaltungen

 
VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
Weitere VideoLinks >>>
Aktuelle Beiträge

Hannover Messe: Elektrische Maschinen in neuen Dimensionen

28.03.2017 | HANNOVER MESSE

Dimethylfumarat – eine neue Behandlungsoption für Lymphome

28.03.2017 | Medizin Gesundheit

Antibiotikaresistenz zeigt sich durch Leuchten

28.03.2017 | Biowissenschaften Chemie