The heterogeneity of soil characteristics in a residential neighborhood: Cub Hill a case study
Yesilonis, I., J. Russell-Anelli, and R.V. Pouyat
We have been investigating the spatial pattern of soil characteristics and invertebrate populations in a residential area near the flux tower at Cub Hill, Baltimore County. One objective of this study was to determine if residential lawns, planting beds, and forest cover types differed in their soil characteristics given that the native soil in this area developed from the same parent material. Composite soil samples to a depth of 5 cm were taken from planting beds (flower and vegetable) and lawns from 50 residences within a 300 m diameter area around the flux tower. An adjacent forest patch was also sampled. Each area was then detailed for characteristics specific to the area and, in addition, items such as slope, percent impervious, and aspect were completed for every delineated polygon. Soil test results included the following parameters: P, K, Mg, Ca, pH, and organic matter. Results showed that forest, bed, and lawn (n = 595) areas contained significantly different concentrations of Mg, P, K, Ca, and organic matter; and had a significantly different pH (p < 0.05) even though the parent material of the native soils were the same. However, there was no significant difference for pH between forest and bed areas and between bed and lawn areas. Within the dataset, Ca and pH are the most highly correlated variables (r = 0.798) followed by Mg and pH (r = 0.500) and Mg and Ca (r = 0.533). A principal component analysis reveals that pH, Mg, and Ca explain 42.6% of the variability of the dataset and organic matter explains 18.5%. In the near future, soil characteristics will be related to soil invertebrate data, age of housing development, and individual residence’s maintenance practices.
Keywords: urban soil, cub hill, lawns

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