Core course: Soil, soil biology & soil hydrology 2015

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

1.  Date

March 23-27, 2015
Start at 9 a.m. The lectures will take place in the seminar room B0.002. The practical part on Monday, March 23 will take place just outside the MPI-BGC. The excursion on Wednesday, March 25 to a raised bog will be by public transportation or bike. The lab demonstration at the MPI-BGC will take place twice - on Thursday and on Friday.


2.  Suggested reading

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


3.  Outline

In the following you see the preliminary schedule:

L = lecture, D = demonstration, P = practical, E = excursion

Mon, March 23  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)
Beate Michalzik
 ca. 10:45 - 12:15LSoil classification
- Key concepts and systems
- Soil transfer functions
- Soil properties and ecological site characteristics
Beate Michalzik
 p.m.E/DSoil description and sampling (close to the MPI)
- Description of soil profile
- Measurement of simple soil properties in the field
Beate Michalzik
Tue, March 24  Soil fauna & C-N cycles in the soil (connection to the organic soil phase)
 09:00 - 10:30LOverview of soil fauna (1.5 h)
- Biodiversity of soil organisms
- soil food webs
- Role of functional organism groups for biogeochemical processes (including their role for soil structure)
Markus Lange
 11:00 - 12:30LSoil C and N stocks and turnover (2 h)
- Carbon stabilization mechanisms
- C and N processes and interactions
- Methods for determination of substrates and C/N processes and isotopic markers
Gerd Gleixner
 13:30 - 16:00LModeling soil C and N turnover: ca. 1h lecture, then modeling exercises with C / N / H2O soil modules, incl. break

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

Carlos Sierra
Wed, March 25  soil biology (II)
 09:30 - 11:00LSoil microbiology (1.5 h)
- Actors/drivers in element cycles, link to day 2 lectures
- Methods of soil biology (classical field & laboratory incubations)
Kirsten Küsel
 11:15 - 12:45LWetland microbiology (1.5 h)
- Actors/drivers in element cycles, link to day 3 lectures
Kirsten Küsel
 14:00 - 18:00E/DField trip to raised bog (with field measurements)
Kirsten Küsel, Beate Michalzik
Thu, March 26  Pore / Water phase of the soil, and transport processes 
 09:00 - 10:30LSoil hydrology (2 h)
- 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
 ca. 10:45 - 12:15LTransport in porous media (1h)
Anke Hildebrandt
 13.15 - 15.30DSoil lab (Group 1)Iris Kuhlmann
Fri, March 27  Environmental change / Human impacts 
 09:00 - 10:00 Soil degradation
- (compaction, loss of organic carbon, acidification, increased erosion, i.e. results of intensive land use)
Beate Michalzik
 ca. 10:15 - 11:15 Response of soil processes to change of moisture and temperature (climate change) (1h)
Carlos Sierra
 13.15 - 15.30DSoil lab (Group 2)Iris Kuhlmann

The soil lab demonstration will be carried out in two groups owing to the restricted place in the MPI labs. Participants of the course will be informed about the grouping by March 10, 2015 (confirmation message of the IMPRS-gBGC coordination office).


4.  Course material

1st presentation by Beate Michalzik
2nd presentation by Beate Michalzik
Presentation by Markus Lange
Presentation by Anke Hildebrandt
Excercises by Anke Hildebrandt
Presentation by Carlos Sierra
Presentation by Thomas Wutzler, presented by Carlos Sierra
R code by Thomas Wutzler
3rd presentation by Beate Michalzik
Handout by Iris Kuhlmann


5.  Registration

Link to the registration page
The maximum number of participants is limited to 25. IMPRS members at a doctoral level (especially advanced ones) have priority. The automatically generated waiting list is preliminary. In case more people sign up that can actually participate, you will be informed by March 16, 2015, whether you are on the final list of participants or on the waiting list. Registrations are sorted by registration date.


6.  Feedback

12 out of 12 participants filled in the survey by April 14, 2015. Thanks a lot for participating in this survey! Your feedback is valuable because it helps the instructors and organizers to improve the individual modules and the general structure of the course.
The survey results are available here. Statistics and statements should not be taken as an exhaustive or exclusive list even if all participants took time for the survey.

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