Skip to page content
USDA Forest Service

Research & Development Treesearch

Treesearch Home
About Treesearch
Contact Us
Research & Development
Forest Products Lab
International Institute of Tropical Forestry
Pacific Northwest
Pacific Southwest
Rocky Mountain
Southern Research Station
Help - We Participate  Government Made Easy

Global Forest Information Service

US Forest Service
P.O. Box 96090
Washington, D.C.

(202) 205-8333

You are here: Home / Search / Publication Information
Bookmark and Share

Publication Information

View PDF (240 KB bytes)

Title: Pedological memory in forest soil development

Author: Phillips, Jonathan D.; Marion, Daniel A.;

Date: 2004

Source: Forest Ecology and Management 188 (2004) 363–380

Publication Series: Miscellaneous Publication

Description: Individual trees may have significant impacts on soil morphology. If these impacts are non-random such that some microsites are repeatedly preferentially affected by trees, complex local spatial variability of soils would result. A model of self-reinforcing pedologic influences of trees (SRPIT) is proposed to explain patterns of soil variability in the Ouachita Mountains, Arkansas. SRPIT postulates that trees are preferentially established on patches that are nutrient-rich and rock fragment poor relative to adjacent sites. The biomechanical effects of trees on soil, and decomposition of roots then maintain and reinforce the rock fragment and nutrient differences relative to surrounding soils, increasing the likelihood of successful future tree establishment. The links hypothesized in the SRPIT model are dynamically unstable, which would be necessary for the self-reinforcing mechanisms to operate. Soil variability in 16 study plots is dominated by local, within-plot variability, pointing to highly localized biological effects and consistent with the SRPIT model. Within each 0.127 ha plot, 4–11 different series, and 4–9 different rock fragment classes were found. Of the 10 paired pits at each plot, 3–7 pairs had different series in pits typically less than 1 m apart. On average, each of the 16 plots had 6.3 different soil types, 6 different rock fragment classes, and 60% of the sample pairs differing in soil series. Richness–area analysis of soil series, and of rock fragment classes, both indicate that pedodiversity is dominated by within-plot rather than between-plot variability. The vertical variations in the concentration of rock fragments in 40 of 58 soil pits is consistent with redistribution of soil material by tree throw, and there is also evidence of rock fragment displacement by tree growth and deposition in stump holes. Overall, results suggest that soil morphological effects of individual trees are an important source of soil spatial variability in forests, and that such effects are non-random over time. Thus even relatively homogeneous areas may be characterized by tree-rich patches which support repeated generations of trees, and tree-poor patches which more rarely host trees.

Keywords: pedologic influences of trees, forest soils, soil variability, soil morphology

Publication Notes:

  • We recommend that you also print this page and attach it to the printout of the article, to retain the full citation information.
  • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.
  • You may send email to to request a hard copy of this publication. (Please specify exactly which publication you are requesting and your mailing address.)



Phillips, Jonathan D.; Marion, Daniel A. 2004. Pedological memory in forest soil development. Forest Ecology and Management 188 (2004) 363–380


 [ Get Acrobat ]  Get the latest version of the Adobe Acrobat reader or Acrobat Reader for Windows with Search and Accessibility

USDA logo which links to the department's national site. Forest Service logo which links to the agency's national site.