As the name implies, soil biogeochemistry is a scientific field examining the complex and inseparable interactions between the biotic (living) and abiotic (non-living) components of soils. Soils are not studied in isolation but are instead viewed as a key nexus in the exchange of matter and energy between the atmosphere, aquatic and marine systems, and the subsurface. The chemical, physical, and biological complexity of soils necessitates our understanding of soil processes relies on the advancement of analytical technology. In the 21st century, insights from genomic studies and high-resolution chemistry analytical tools have overturned long-standing paradigms about soil formation and revealed novel decomposition and stabilization pathways.
While the field of soil biogeochemistry has only been formally organized for a few decades (Gorham 1991), its origins are evident in the writings of luminaries that recognized the importance of interactions between the abiotic and biotic components of soils. For example, the seminal work of Jenny 1941 articulated how the interactions of climate, geology, and biology drive the formation of soil organic matter. These fundamental insights were the foundation for more recent advances in our detailed understanding of soil formation, summarized by Lehmann and Kleber 2015. Other aspects of soil nutrient cycling have been elucidated, and new aspects continue to be discovered to the present (van Groenigen, et al. 2015). Even as we continue advancing our understanding of soil biogeochemical processes, humans continue altering them, making this work as relevant and important as ever (Paul 2014).
Gorham, E. 1991. Biogeochemistry: Its origins and development. Biogeochemistry 13.3: 199–239.
A thorough and scholarly review of the history of biogeochemistry.
Jenny, Hans. 1941. Factors of soil formation. New York: McGraw-Hill.
A seminal work that presents the concepts of state factors driving soil formation, specifically: soil physicochemical properties, regional climate, potential biota, topographic relief, parent material, and time.
Lehmann, Johannes, and Markus Kleber. 2015. The contentious nature of soil organic matter. Nature 528.7580: 60–68.
Reviews the history and drivers of recent paradigm shifts in our understanding of soil organic matter decomposition and formation.
McLauchlan, Kendra. 2006. The nature and longevity of agricultural impacts on soil carbon and nutrients: A review. Ecosystems 9.8: 1364–1382.
A summary of agricultural management impacts on soil nutrient cycling.
Paul, Eldor A. 2014. Soil microbiology, ecology and biochemistry. Waltham, MA: Academic.
An edited book focused on biological controls of soil biogeochemical processes.
Sterner, R. W., and J. J. Elser. 2002. Ecological stoichiometry: The biology of elements from molecules to the biosphere. Princeton, NJ: Princeton Univ. Press.
This seminal text explicitly links elemental cycling with metabolic demand and ecological interactions. Summarizes the chemistry of biologically relevant elements and then explores how they influence the structure of molecules, cells, individuals, populations, communities, and ecosystems.
van Groenigen, J. W., D. Huygens, and P. Boeckx, et al. 2015. The soil N cycle: New insights and key challenges. Soil 1.1: 235.
Synthesizes our understanding of the modern nitrogen cycle and identifies key areas of uncertainty challenging the modeling community.
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content on this page. Please subscribe or login.
How to Subscribe
Oxford Bibliographies Online is available by subscription and perpetual access to institutions. For more information or to contact an Oxford Sales Representative click here.
Purchase an Ebook Version of This Article
Ebooks of the Oxford Bibliographies Online subject articles are available in North America via a number of retailers including Amazon, vitalsource, and more. Simply search on their sites for Oxford Bibliographies Online Research Guides and your desired subject article.
If you would like to purchase an eBook article and live outside North America please email email@example.com to express your interest.
- Accounting for Ecological Capital
- Allocation of Reproductive Resources in Plants
- Animals, Functional Morphology of
- Animals, Reproductive Allocation in
- Animals, Thermoregulation in
- Antarctic Environments and Ecology
- Applied Ecology
- Aquatic Conservation
- Aquatic Nutrient Cycling
- Archaea, Ecology of
- Assembly Models
- Bacterial Diversity in Freshwater
- Benthic Ecology
- Biodiversity and Ecosystem Functioning
- Biodiversity Patterns in Agricultural Systms
- Biological Chaos and Complex Dynamics
- Biome, Alpine
- Biome, Boreal
- Biome, Desert
- Biome, Grassland
- Biome, Savanna
- Biome, Tundra
- Biomes, African
- Biomes, East Asian
- Biomes, Mountain
- Biomes, North American
- Biomes, South Asian
- Bryophyte Ecology
- Butterfly Ecology
- Carson, Rachel
- Chemical Ecology
- Classification Analysis
- Coastal Dune Habitats
- Communities and Ecosystems, Indirect Effects in
- Communities, Top-Down and Bottom-Up Regulation of
- Community Concept, The
- Community Ecology
- Community Genetics
- Community Phenology
- Competition and Coexistence in Animal Communities
- Competition in Plant Communities
- Complexity Theory
- Conservation Biology
- Conservation Genetics
- Coral Reefs
- Darwin, Charles
- De-Glaciation, Ecology of
- Disease Ecology
- Drought as a Disturbance in Forests
- Early Explorers, The
- Earth’s Climate, The
- Eco-Evolutionary Dynamics
- Ecological Dynamics in Fragmented Landscapes
- Ecological Informatics
- Ecology, Microbial (Community)
- Ecosystem Engineers
- Ecosystem Multifunctionality
- Ecosystem Services
- Ecosystem Services, Conservation of
- Elton, Charles
- Endophytes, Fungal
- Energy Flow
- Environments, Extreme
- Ethics, Ecological
- Facilitation and the Organization of Communities
- Fern and Lycophyte Ecology
- Fire Ecology
- Food Webs
- Foraging Behavior, Implications of
- Foraging, Optimal
- Forests, Temperate Coniferous
- Forests, Temperate Deciduous
- Freshwater Invertebrate Ecology
- Genetic Considerations in Plant Ecological Restoration
- Genomics, Ecological
- Geographic Range
- Gleason, Henry
- Greig-Smith, Peter
- Gymnosperm Ecology
- Habitat Selection
- Harper, John L.
- Heavy Metal Tolerance
- Himalaya, Ecology of the
- Host-Parasitoid Interactions
- Human Ecology
- Human Ecology of the Andes
- Hutchinson, G. Evelyn
- Insect Ecology, Terrestrial
- Introductory Sources
- Invasive Species
- Island Biogeography Theory
- Island Biology
- Kin Selection
- Landscape Dynamics
- Landscape Ecology
- Laws, Ecological
- Legume-Rhizobium Symbiosis, The
- Leopold, Aldo
- Lichen Ecology
- Life History
- Literature, Ecology and
- MacArthur, Robert H.
- Mangrove Zone Ecology
- Marine Fisheries Management
- Mathematical Ecology
- Mating Systems
- Maximum Sustainable Yield
- Metabolic Scaling Theory
- Metacommunity Dynamics
- Metapopulations and Spatial Population Processes
- Mutualisms and Symbioses
- Mycorrhizal Ecology
- Natural History Tradition, The
- Networks, Ecological
- Niche Versus Neutral Models of Community Organization
- Nutrient Foraging in Plants
- Ordination Analysis
- Organic Agriculture, Ecology of
- Parental Care, Evolution of
- Patch Dynamics
- Phenotypic Selection
- Philosophy, Ecological
- Phylogenetics and Comparative Methods
- Physiological Ecology of Nutrient Acquisition in Animals
- Physiological Ecology of Photosynthesis
- Physiological Ecology of Water Balance in Terrestrial Anim...
- Plant Disease Epidemiology
- Plant Ecological Responses to Extreme Climatic Events
- Polar Regions
- Pollination Ecology
- Population Dynamics, Density-Dependence and Single-Species
- Population Dynamics, Methods in
- Population Fluctuations and Cycles
- Population Genetics
- Population Viability Analysis
- Populations and Communities, Dynamics of Age- and Stage-St...
- Predation and Community Organization
- Predator-Prey Interactions
- Reductionism Versus Holism
- Religion and Ecology
- Remote Sensing
- Restoration Ecology
- Ricketts, Edward Flanders Robb
- Seed Ecology
- Serpentine Soils
- Shelford, Victor
- Soil Biogeochemistry
- Soil Ecology
- Spatial Pattern Analysis
- Spatial Patterns of Species Biodiversity in Terrestrial En...
- Species Extinctions
- Species Responses to Climate Change
- Species-Area Relationships
- Stability and Ecosystem Resilience, A Below-Ground Perspec...
- Stoichiometry, Ecological
- Stream Ecology
- Systems Ecology
- Tansley, Sir Arthur
- Terrestrial Resource Limitation
- Thermal Ecology of Animals
- Tragedy of the Commons
- Trophic Levels
- Vegetation Classification
- Vegetation Mapping
- Weed Ecology
- Whittaker, Robert H.
- Wildlife Ecology