An alternative to soil taxonomy for describing key soil characteristics

Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment
By: , and 



We are pleased to see the letter by Schimel and Chadwick (Front Ecol Environ 2013; 11[8]: 405–06), highlighting the importance of soil characterization in ecological and biogeochemical research and explaining the value of soil taxonomy, and we agree with the authors that reporting soil taxonomic classification would greatly increase the interpretive value of many studies. However, in our extensive work with land managers and scientists, we have found that taxonomic classifications are not particularly useful because they are poorly understood. For those unfamiliar with soil taxonomy, deconstructing the meaning of a classification is not a simple task. Furthermore, because the US system of soil taxonomy is not applied universally, its utility as a means for effectively describing soil characteristics to readers in other countries is limited. Finally, and most importantly, even at the finest level of soil classification there are often large within-taxa variations in critical properties that can determine ecosystem responses to drivers such as climate and land-use change.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title An alternative to soil taxonomy for describing key soil characteristics
Series title Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment
DOI 10.1890/13.WB.020
Volume 11
Issue 10
Year Published 2013
Language English
Publisher The Ecological Society of America
Contributing office(s) Southwest Biological Science Center
Description 2 p.
Larger Work Type Article
Larger Work Subtype Journal Article
Larger Work Title Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment
First page 527
Last page 528
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