Course Description

420.620 - Soils in Natural & Anthropogenic Ecosystems

This course introduces students to basic concepts of soil science and the soil's contribution to the functions of natural and anthropogenic ecosystems. It provides an overview of soil morphological, physical, chemical, and biological properties, and how these interact to form a soil with unique characteristics and ecosystem function. Students discuss soils of the world from the perspective of soil taxonomy, the processes that form these soils, and land use properties specific to each soil order. Students learn to read soil maps, to interpret and predict the quality and land use potential of soils, and to use available soil data. A strong focus will be given to environmental and ecological issues relating to soil science in the context of the ecological relationships between soil organisms and their biotic and abiotic environments, with emphasis on the role of soil organisms in biogeochemical cycling, ecosystem structure and function, long-term ecosystem sustainability, and global environmental change. Current issues regarding the proper use and management of soils are investigated. All sections (online and in person) will involve some field related work. Online sections will be offered every annually. Prerequisites: 420.601 Geological Foundations for Environmental Sciences; (recommended) 420.611 - Principles & Methods of Ecology, or permission from the instructor.