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  • 1
    Language: English
    In: PLoS ONE, 01 January 2016, Vol.11(7), p.e0159948
    Description: Matter turnover in soil is tightly linked to soil structure which governs the heterogeneous distribution of habitats, reaction sites and pathways in soil. Thereby, the temporal dynamics of soil structure alteration is deemed to be important for essential ecosystem functions of soil but very little is known about it. A major reason for this knowledge gap is the lack of methods to study soil structure turnover directly at microscopic scales. Here we devise a conceptual approach and an image processing workflow to study soil structure turnover by labeling some initial state of soil structure with small garnet particles and tracking their fate with X-ray microtomography. The particles adhere to aggregate boundaries at the beginning of the experiment but gradually change their position relative to the nearest pore as structure formation progresses and pores are destructed or newly formed. A new metric based on the contact distances between particles and pores is proposed that allows for a direct quantification of soil structure turnover rates. The methodology is tested for a case study about soil compaction of a silty loam soil during stepwise increase of bulk density (ρ = {1.1, 1.3, 1.5} g/cm3). We demonstrate that the analysis of mean contact distances provides genuinely new insights about changing diffusion pathways that cannot be inferred neither from conventional pore space attributes (porosity, mean pore size, pore connectivity) nor from deformation analysis with digital image correlation. This structure labeling approach to quantify soil structure turnover provides a direct analogy to stable isotope labeling for the analysis of matter turnover and can be readily combined with each other.
    Keywords: Sciences (General)
    E-ISSN: 1932-6203
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  • 2
    Language: English
    In: Nature, 22 February 2018, Vol.554(7693), pp.423
    Keywords: Soil ; Plant Roots -- Chemistry
    ISSN: 00280836
    E-ISSN: 1476-4687
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  • 3
    In: Ecohydrology, September 2018, Vol.11(6), pp.n/a-n/a
    Description: By applying the newly developed flow cell (FC) concept, this study investigated the impact of small‐scale spatial variations (millimetre to centimetre) in organic matter (OM) composition (diffusive reflectance infrared Fourier transform spectroscopy), biological activity (zymography), and wettability (contact angle [CA]) on transport processes (tracer experiments, radiography). Experiments were conducted in five undisturbed soil slices (millimetre apart), consisting of a sandy matrix with an embedded loamy band. In the loamy band increased enzyme activities and OM (10 mm apart) were found compared with the sand matrix, with no interrelations although spatial autocorrelation ranges were up to 7 cm. CAs were increased (0–110°) above the loamy band and were negatively correlated with acid phosphatase. Missing correlations were probably attributed to texture variations between soil slices. A general correlation between CA and C content (bulk) were confirmed. Variability in texture and hydraulic properties led to the formation of heterogeneous flow patterns and probably to heterogeneously distributed interfacial properties. The new FC concept allows process evaluation on the millimetre scale to analyse spatial relations, that is, between small‐scale textural changes on transport processes and biological responses. The concept has been proved as a versatile tool to analyse spatial distribution of biological and interfacial soil properties in conjunction with the analysis of complex micro‐hydraulic processes for undisturbed soil samples. The concept may be improved by additional nondestructive imaging methods, which is especially challenging for the detection of small‐scale textural changes.
    Keywords: Drift Spectroscopy ; Extracellular Enzyme Activity ; Flow Cell ; Soil Water Repellency ; Transport Processes ; Undisturbed Soil ; X‐Ray Radiography
    ISSN: 1936-0584
    E-ISSN: 1936-0592
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  • 4
    Language: English
    In: Frontiers in Microbiology, 01 August 2018, Vol.9
    Description: Over the last 60 years, soil microbiologists have accumulated a wealth of experimental data showing that the bulk, macroscopic parameters (e.g., granulometry, pH, soil organic matter, and biomass contents) commonly used to characterize soils provide insufficient information to describe quantitatively the activity of soil microorganisms and some of its outcomes, like the emission of greenhouse gasses. Clearly, new, more appropriate macroscopic parameters are needed, which reflect better the spatial heterogeneity of soils at the microscale (i.e., the pore scale) that is commensurate with the habitat of many microorganisms. For a long time, spectroscopic and microscopic tools were lacking to quantify processes at that scale, but major technological advances over the last 15 years have made suitable equipment available to researchers. In this context, the objective of the present article is to review progress achieved to date in the significant research program that has ensued. This program can be rationalized as a sequence of steps, namely the quantification and modeling of the physical-, (bio)chemical-, and microbiological properties of soils, the integration of these different perspectives into a unified theory, its upscaling to the macroscopic scale, and, eventually, the development of new approaches to measure macroscopic soil characteristics. At this stage, significant progress has been achieved on the physical front, and to a lesser extent on the (bio)chemical one as well, both in terms of experiments and modeling. With regard to the microbial aspects, although a lot of work has been devoted to the modeling of bacterial and fungal activity in soils at the pore scale, the appropriateness of model assumptions cannot be readily assessed because of the scarcity of relevant experimental data. For significant progress to be made, it is crucial to make sure that research on the microbial components of soil systems does not keep lagging behind the work on the physical and (bio)chemical characteristics. Concerning the subsequent steps in the program, very little integration of the various disciplinary perspectives has occurred so far, and, as a result, researchers have not yet been able to tackle the scaling up to the macroscopic level. Many challenges, some of them daunting, remain on the path ahead. Fortunately, a number of these challenges may be resolved by brand new measuring equipment that will become commercially available in the very near future.
    Keywords: Soil Microbiology ; Biodiversity ; Upscaling ; Tomography ; X-Ray Computed ; Nanosims Imaging ; Biology
    E-ISSN: 1664-302X
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