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Soil Diversity (Pedodiversity) and Ecosystem Services

Department of Forestry and Environmental Conservation, Clemson University, Clemson, SC 29634, USA
Department of Soil and Water Sciences, University of Tripoli, Tripoli 13538, Libya
Department of Environmental Engineering and Earth Sciences, Clemson University, Anderson, SC 29625, USA
Economics Department, Reed College, Portland, OR 97202, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Chiara Piccini and Rosa Francaviglia
Land 2021, 10(3), 288;
Received: 25 February 2021 / Revised: 9 March 2021 / Accepted: 9 March 2021 / Published: 11 March 2021
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Soil Management for Sustainability)
Soil ecosystem services (ES) (e.g., provisioning, regulation/maintenance, and cultural) and ecosystem disservices (ED) are dependent on soil diversity/pedodiversity (variability of soils), which needs to be accounted for in the economic analysis and business decision-making. The concept of pedodiversity (biotic + abiotic) is highly complex and can be broadly interpreted because it is formed from the interaction of atmospheric diversity (abiotic + biotic), biodiversity (biotic), hydrodiversity (abiotic + biotic), and lithodiversity (abiotic) within ecosphere and anthroposphere. Pedodiversity is influenced by intrinsic (within the soil) and extrinsic (outside soil) factors, which are also relevant to ES/ED. Pedodiversity concepts and measures may need to be adapted to the ES framework and business applications. Currently, there are four main approaches to analyze pedodiversity: taxonomic (diversity of soil classes), genetic (diversity of genetic horizons), parametric (diversity of soil properties), and functional (soil behavior under different uses). The objective of this article is to illustrate the application of pedodiversity concepts and measures to value ES/ED with examples based on the contiguous United States (U.S.), its administrative units, and the systems of soil classification (e.g., U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Soil Taxonomy, Soil Survey Geographic (SSURGO) Database). This study is based on a combination of original research and literature review examples. Taxonomic pedodiversity in the contiguous U.S. exhibits high soil diversity, with 11 soil orders, 65 suborders, 317 great groups, 2026 subgroups, and 19,602 series. The ranking of “soil order abundance” (area of each soil order within the U.S.) expressed as the proportion of the total area is: (1) Mollisols (27%), (2) Alfisols (17%), (3) Entisols (14%), (4) Inceptisols and Aridisols (11% each), (5) Spodosols (3%), (6) Vertisols (2%), and (7) Histosols and Andisols (1% each). Taxonomic, genetic, parametric, and functional pedodiversity are an essential context for analyzing, interpreting, and reporting ES/ED within the ES framework. Although each approach can be used separately, three of these approaches (genetic, parametric, and functional) fall within the “umbrella” of taxonomic pedodiversity, which separates soils based on properties important to potential use. Extrinsic factors play a major role in pedodiversity and should be accounted for in ES/ED valuation based on various databases (e.g., National Atmospheric Deposition Program (NADP) databases). Pedodiversity is crucial in identifying soil capacity (pedocapacity) and “hotspots” of ES/ED as part of business decision making to provide more sustainable use of soil resources. Pedodiversity is not a static construct but is highly dynamic, and various human activities (e.g., agriculture, urbanization) can lead to soil degradation and even soil extinction. View Full-Text
Keywords: climate change; extinction; food; land use; market; pedocapacity; security; soil capacity climate change; extinction; food; land use; market; pedocapacity; security; soil capacity
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MDPI and ACS Style

Mikhailova, E.A.; Zurqani, H.A.; Post, C.J.; Schlautman, M.A.; Post, G.C. Soil Diversity (Pedodiversity) and Ecosystem Services. Land 2021, 10, 288.

AMA Style

Mikhailova EA, Zurqani HA, Post CJ, Schlautman MA, Post GC. Soil Diversity (Pedodiversity) and Ecosystem Services. Land. 2021; 10(3):288.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Mikhailova, Elena A., Hamdi A. Zurqani, Christopher J. Post, Mark A. Schlautman, and Gregory C. Post. 2021. "Soil Diversity (Pedodiversity) and Ecosystem Services" Land 10, no. 3: 288.

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