Considerations for applying digital soil mapping to ecological sites

TitleConsiderations for applying digital soil mapping to ecological sites
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2015
AuthorsLevi M, Nauman T, Bestelmeyer B, Brown J., Brungard C, Libohova Z, Duniway M, Johansen J.
Conference Name2015 National Cooperative Soil Survey National Conference
Date Published06/2015
Conference LocationDuluth, MN
ARIS Log Number321880

Recent advancements in the spatial prediction of soil properties are not currently being fully utilized for ecological studies. Linking digital soil mapping (DSM) with ecological sites (ES) has the potential to better land management decisions by improving spatial resolution and precision as well as quantifying uncertainty of environmental information. Current spatial representation of ES largely depends on soil survey data. Any discrepancies in soil survey data are carried forward into ES inventories and interpretations. Recent advances in DSM technologies have focused on identifying unique soil components (disaggregating soil map units) and mapping continuous soil properties and associated uncertainty to improve soil data products. Soil surveys often do not discriminate properties important to ecosystem variation because of mapping limitations, yet subtle soil variations within map units or components may have important consequences for vegetation and ecological dynamics. Detailed maps of soil properties linked to important ecological variables could improve explanations of ecosystem patterns and dynamics. A recent workshop was held at the Jornada Experimental Range to bring together NCSS partners experienced with ES and DSM to initiate integration of these efforts. The application of DSM for ecological site development and mapping could help attain goals of the NRCS, BLM and USFS to produce ES products for improved land stewardship. We present a vision of how coupling DSM and ecological site descriptions could change the way we produce and consume ecological information.