2001 ESA Symposium


2001 Soil Ecology Section Symposium, Madison, WI

Sustaining and Restoring our Soils

Sina M. Adl (University of Georgia) and Sherri Morris (Bradley University)

The soil is responsible for irreplaceable ecosystem services, such as water filtration, food production, recycling of nutrients through decomposition, and detoxification of chemicals. However, soils are variously abused by agricultural over-exploitation, chemical pollution or poor management. As our global population density increases, our demands from the soil and the impact on soil ecosystems is exacerbated. The complexity of the soil, and of decomposition, is illustrated by the hundreds of species of bacteria, protozoa, fungi and invertebrates that can be found in just a few grams of most soils. The role of soil processes in nutrient cycling, carbon storage and the return of C as CO2 to the atmosphere, sustains primary production upon which organisms, including people, depend. The challenge before us is to understand soil ecology sufficiently so as to manage these processes sustainably for the future. Our speakers with diverse backgrounds will address topics in agro-ecology, global change issues, conservation and management, soil biology and biogeochemistry. Selection of good soil bioindicators, with predictive ability for food-web management, are considered by B. Stenberg. D. Neher discusses how to manage agriculture as ecosystems so as to sustain soil processes. Consequences of long-term conservation practice on soil food-webs in previously eroded agricultural sites is presented by S. Adl. The interactions between soil organisms and soil restoration practice are discussed by M. Allen. The effectiveness of forest soil restoration with prescribed fire in relation to nitrogen loading is discussed by R. Boerner. Global aspects of soil management with respect to climate change and the Kyoto protocol are considered by W. Schlesinger. Lastly, P. Smith discusses the predictive ability of our global change models for ecosystems based on current knowledge.

Tentative Schedule
12:00 - 12:05. Introduction and welcome. Sina Adl and Sherri Morris.
12:05 - 12:35 Bo Stenberg, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences. Microbiological indicators for monitoring changes in soil sustainability and quality.
12:35 - 1:05 Deborah Neher, University of Toledo. Comparing ecosystem processes and soil community composition.
1:05 - 1:35 Sina Adl, University of Georgia. Consequences of long-term conservation practice on trophic structure of agro-ecosystems.
1:35 - 1:50 Break.
1:50 - 2:10 Mike Allen, University of California Riverside. Arbuscular mycorrhizae and restoration of disturbed soils: structure of hyphae and non-nutritional roles.
2:10 - 2:40 Ralph Boerner, Ohio State University. Is prescribed fire effective in restoring eastern forest soils under heavy atmospheric N loading?
2:40 - 3:10 William H. Schlesinger, Duke University. Changes in soil carbon stocks with land management and increasing atmospheric CO2.
3:10 - 3:40 Pete Smith, IACR-Rothamstead. Approaches to modeling soil biota to predict the impacts of global change at the ecosystem level.
3:40 - 3:50 Synthesis and concluding comments. Sherri Morris.

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