Introduction

Soils are an essential component of the world's ecosystems, providing rooting medium for plants and serving as the habitat for the saprophytic organisms that recycle energy, matter, and nutrients through the decomposition process. Soils have been an essential provider of ecosystem services throughout human history, as most food comes ultimately from plants that grow in soils and sediments. Ancient societies dating back to the Mesopotamians and Egyptians have recognized the importance of soils. We can see the deep importance of soils in the root and origins of many words, for example, the shared root of the words humus and human. While the relationship between soil organisms and soil

Investigative science

Investigative science

Plant - microbe / — \ S, P metals interactions processes Interactions / Pedogenesis

Plant - microbe / — \ S, P metals interactions processes Interactions / Pedogenesis

Management

Figure 1 The conceptual domain of soil ecology includes organisms, processes, and the societal context for research. From Paul EA (ed.) (2006) Soil Microbiology, Ecology, and Biogeochemistry, 3rd edn. Burlington, MA: Academic Press.

Management

Figure 1 The conceptual domain of soil ecology includes organisms, processes, and the societal context for research. From Paul EA (ed.) (2006) Soil Microbiology, Ecology, and Biogeochemistry, 3rd edn. Burlington, MA: Academic Press.

health has been linked for centuries, the discipline of soil ecology has its origins in microbial ecology of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, soil science of the early twentieth century, and soil management (particularly agricultural systems) in the mid-twentieth century. Recent efforts in soil ecology have focused on developing a mechanistic understanding of how organisms and soils interact to yield patterns of soil biodiversity, nutrient cycling function within ecosystems, and feedbacks to global change mechanisms.

Soil ecology is concerned with interactions, be it between organisms or between organisms and the soil environment. Soil ecology has its origins in soil biology and soil zoology, the study of organisms in the soil habitat. Soil ecology and soil science are related, yet different disciplines, with soil science focusing more on physical processes, the classification and genesis of soils, soil chemistry, and soil physics. When we ask ecological questions about soils from an ecosystems perspective, the inclusion of physical and chemical interactions with organisms extends this overlap between soil ecology and soil science. The conceptual and analytical tools between the two disciplines differ because they have different epistemological and metaphysical foci. The breadth of the conceptual domain of the discipline of soil ecology can be seen in Figure 1.

Oplan Termites

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