Institute of Ecosystem Studies

2008 BES Annual Meeting Presentation and Poster Abstracts

Changes in Soil Organic Matter Related to Suburban Growth into Agricultural and Forested Areas
Dandois, Jonathan
Co-Authors: Jonathan Dandois
Abstract: Suburban growth has primarily been associated with an increase in impervious surface over once vegetated landscapes. An image of rows of identical homes rolling over the hills of an old farm, with paved parking lots, shops and town centers, is common to many Americans today. As a result, the extent of managed vegetated landscapes common to suburban development, such as turf lawns, are increasing as well. Yet suburban landscapes are generally a mix of different cover types including managed forests, gardens and grasses and it is common today for developments to be designed with plenty of different types of green space for new residents to enjoy. This paper explores how land use changes from dominantly forested and agricultural to suburban development may affect soil organic matter. Has the replacement of forests and agricultural land by suburban development resulted in a loss in soil organic matter of the local soils? We look at the suburbs of Baltimore MD as a case study - an area studied extensively by the Baltimore Ecosystem Study as an NSF Long-Term Ecological Research Site and the site of the first carbon flux tower in an urban environment. We combine soils data with high-resolution mapping to conduct a multi-temporal analysis of suburban landscape change and its influence on soil biogeochemistry from the 1950s to 2003.