Core course:
Soil, soil biology & soil hydrology 2021

1.  General information

Date: October 04 - November 19, 2021
Location: lecture room of the MPI-BGC and in the Institute of Biodiversity (Dornburger Str. 159), Room 401.

Marion Schrumpf
Gerd Gleixner
Kirsten Küsel
Anke Hildebrandt
Iris Kuhlmann
Carlos Sierra
Markus Lange
Will Overholt

Category: Courses related to soil, soil biology and soil hydrology
Credits: 0.2 CP per course day


2.  Introduction

The rationale of this module is to provide PhD researchers with a general idea of soil formation, life within the soil, the links to biogeochemical cycles, as well as transport processes.

Key integrating aspects (propositions, to be continued):

  • Everything is connected (i.e. the water, C, N, P and mineral cycles interact nowhere as closely as in the soil)
  • Time scales of the different interacting cycles (time of soil formation, vs. time of complete degradation of this years litter vs. time of complete exchange of water within the soil volume?)
  • Soil structure connects with biogeochemistry as well as water flow

3.  Suggested reading

Brady & Weil (2001). The Nature and Properties of Soils. Prentice Hall


4.  Agenda

COVID-19: we plan to have an in-person course, but we will need to see if this is possible in September.
The agenda is preliminary. The total number of students is limited to 19.

In the following you see the preliminary schedule:
L = lecture, D = demonstration, P = practical, E = excursion

Day & TimeTypeContentWho


Mon, October 4 Intro to soil science and the mineral phase of the soil


09:00 - 10:30LImportant aspects of soil science
- Soil function and formation
- Intro to soil phases (water/air, mineral, organic)
Marion Schrumpf


11:00 - 12:00E/DSoil description and sampling (close to the MPI)
- Description of soil profile
- Measurement of simple soil properties in the field
Marion Schrumpf


13:00 - 14:00E/DSoil description and sampling (close to the MPI)
- Description of soil profile
- Measurement of simple soil properties in the field
Marion Schrumpf


14:30 - 16:00LSoil classification
- Key concepts and systems
- Soil transfer functions
- Soil properties and ecological site characteristics
Marion Schrumpf


Wed, October 6 Soil lab


09:00 - 12:00D, P- Field Experiments & Instrumentation/Workshop

- Tools for soil sampling
- Soil sample processing

Iris Kuhlmann

13:00 - 15:00D, P- Sample preparation for different analyses

- Monitoring and manipulations
- Working with labeled material
- Introduction to the Service departments

Iris Kuhlmann


Fri, October 8 C-N cycles in the soil (connection to the organic soil phase)


09:00 - 10:30LSoil C and N stocks and turnover
- Carbon stabilization mechanisms
- C and N processes and interactions
- Methods for determination of substrates and C/N processes and isotopic markers
Gerd Gleixner


10:45 - 13:00
- via Zoom
L, PModeling soil organic matter dynamics in R

please bring a laptop with a current version of R and RStudio installed. You will need the packages SoilR and FME

Carlos Sierra


14:00 - 15:30
- via Zoom
LResponse of soil processes to change of moisture and temperature (climate change)
Carlos Sierra


Thu, October 14 Soil fauna, pore & water phase, transport processes


08:30 - 09:45LOverview of soil fauna
- Biodiversity of soil organisms
- soil food webs
- Role of functional organism groups for biogeochemical processes (including their role for soil structure)
Markus Lange


10:00 - 11:45LSoil hydrology
- Water flow/storage in unsaturated and saturated media, incl. non-linear processes, macro-pore flow
- Water balance at soil surface
- Plant – water interactions
Anke Hildebrandt


12:45 - 14:00LTransport in porous media
Anke Hildebrandt


15:00 - 16:00LSoil degradation
- (compaction, loss of organic carbon, acidification, increased erosion, i.e. results of intensive land use)
Marion Schrumpf


Fri, November 19

at Dornburger Str. 159

Soil biology (II)

lecture hall on the 4th floor


09:00 - 10:30LSoil microbiology
- Actors/drivers in element cycles
- Methods of soil biology (classical field & laboratory incubations)
Kirsten Küsel


10:45 - 13:00PDNA extraction from soil

PCR (16S Bacteria, 16S Archaea, 18S Eukarya)

Will Overholt


14:00 - 15:00PGelelectrophoresis (with prepared PCR products)

Gel analysis (with prepared Gel)

Will Overholt


15:15 - 17:00LWetland microbiology
- Actors/drivers in element cycles
Kirsten Küsel



5.  Course material

Soil formation processes and properties (by Marion Schrumpf)
Soil sorption classification and soil of the world (by Marion Schrumpf)

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