About this Research Topic
Despite a growing urgency for ecological restoration and rehabilitation to be undertaken at huge scales around the world, our understanding of the mechanisms and processes responsible for driving pedogenesis and soil development in many ecosystems remains poor – both for natural landscapes and the many disturbed areas requiring ecological recovery activities. The processes influencing pedogenesis and cycles in soils are frequently dynamic and influenced by complex plant-soil, plant-microbe, and microbe-soil interactions, and much greater resolution is required in our knowledge of these processes and interactions if we are to achieve the lofty aspirations of the Decade of Ecosystem Restoration.
All too frequently, studies on the ecological restoration or rehabilitation of disturbed and degraded landscapes around the world report failures or unsatisfactory outcomes, stemming from either poor consideration of soil and edaphic factors or inability to sufficiently ameliorate substrate conditions to a point where they are capable of supporting desired microbial and vegetation communities. Recent studies have identified substrates supporting restoration variously as ecologically hostile chemical environments, presenting challenging hydrological and osmotic conditions, having unsuitable macronutrient stoichiometry for native vegetation adapted to ancient and heavily-weathered soils, or harboring high concentrations of biologically-toxic contaminants. These and other conditions can limit, and even entirely compromise restoration and rehabilitation activities – and are compounded by the fact that our understanding of the natural processes and mechanisms driving soil development and determining patterns of vegetation and microbial diversity and composition are poorly understood.
This topic deals with all empirical research and reviews pertaining to the soil microbiome, pedogenesis and soil development, and the interactive relationships between soil, soil microbes, and plants. Research examining the relationships between these factors and soil invertebrate communities will also be considered, as long as it focuses on enhancing our mechanistic understanding of soil and vegetation developmental processes. It is preferable that results are contextualized around ecological restoration or rehabilitation, or at least that the significance of processes examined to restorative activities is discussed.
Keywords: Pedogenesis, Microbiome, Ecosystem Development, Trajectory, Ecology
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