Pedogenesis in Western Washington and Northern Alaska: A Comparison of the Primary Factors

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Pedogenesis in Western Washington and Northern Alaska: A Comparison of the Primary Factors


Pedology is partially based on the established principle that soil changes are directly correlated to specific biotic communities and regional climatic patterns. From this principle questions have arisen as to why the Arctic tundra that lies above the treeline in Alaska displays similar chemical characteristics to that of the well-developed Podzols and Spodosols found in the coniferous forests of Washington. The Podzols and Spodsols of these coniferous forests are defined by their cool and humid regional climates and by the acidic parent material from which they formed. Recent studies indicate that the E and Bs horizons that define the temperate forest soils are also found above the treeline in Alaska, Canada, Greenland, and Siberia (Ugolini, Stoner, & Marret, 1987). What role does biota play in the current soil formation for each of the sites? Why do the similarities exist between the sites despite differences in climate and vegetation? What other factors consistently influence the soil properties?

The purpose of my paper is to address the question of which soil forming factors have the greatest effect on the similar and distinct characteristics of the two geographic locations.

Podzolization: Pedogenic Change in Alaska and Washington

Chemical analyses of temperate forest soils in the Pacific Northwest have been collected to examine soil forming trends (Ugolini, Stoner, & Marret, 1987). Such data allows us to compare various ecosystems and their characteristic pedological processes. Ugolini et al 1987 show how the soil solution analysis allows us to see ". . . a simple two-compartment system" (p.91). The first ...

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...d processes, principles, and knowledge necessary to further our understanding of modern pedogenesis as an important part of soil science.

References Cited:

Birkland, Peter, 1984, Soils and Geomorphology: New York, Oxford University Press, 372 p.

Marret D.J., Stoner M.G., & F.C. Ugolini, August 1987, "Arctic Pedogenesis: 1. Evidence for Contemporary Podzolization." Soil Science, 144, p.90-100.

Schlichte, A.K., & F.C. Ugolini, May 4, 1973, "The Effect of Holocene Environmental Changes on Selected Western Washington Soils," Soil Science, 116, p.218-227.

Sletten, Ronald, & F.C. Ugolini, January 1991, "The Role of Proton Donors in Pedogenesis as Revealed by Soil Solution Studies." Soil Science,151, p.59-72.

Stoner, M.G., & F.C. Ugolini, January 1968, "Arctic Pedogenesis: 2. Threshold-Controlled Subsurface Leaching Episodes." Soil Science, 145, p.46-50.
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