The hidden ecological resource of andic soils in mountain ecosystems: evidence from Italy
Abstract. Andic soils have unique morphological, physical, and chemical properties that induce both considerable soil fertility and great vulnerability to land degradation. Moreover, they are the most striking mineral soils in terms of large organic C storage and long C residence time. This is especially related to the presence of poorly crystalline clay minerals and metal–humus complexes. Recognition of andic soils is then very important.
Here we attempt to show, through a combined analysis of 35 sampling points chosen in accordance to specific physical and vegetation rules, that some andic soils have an utmost ecological importance.
More specifically, in Italian non-volcanic mountain ecosystems ( > 600 m a.s.l.) combining low slope (< 21 %) and highly active green biomass (high NDVI values) and in agreement to recent findings, we found the widespread occurrence of andic soils having distinctive physical and hydrological properties including low bulk density and remarkably high water retention. Most importantly, we report a demonstration of the ability of these soils to affect ecosystem functions by analysing their influence on the timescale acceleration of photosynthesis estimated by NDVI measurements.
Our results are hoped to be a starting point for better understanding of the ecological importance of andic soils and also possibly to better consider pedological information in C balance calculations.