A global comparison of surface soil characteristics across five cities: a test of the urban ecosystem convergence hypothesis
Pouyat, Richard V.
Yesilonis, Ian D.
MetadataShow full item record
As part of the Global Urban Soil Ecology and Education Network and to test the urban ecosystem convergence hypothesis, we report on soil pH, organic carbon (OC), total nitrogen (TN), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K) measured in four soil habitat types (turfgrass, ruderal, remnant, and reference) in five metropolitan areas (Baltimore, Budapest, Helsinki, Lahti, Potchefstroom) across four biomes. We expected the urban soil characteristics to “converge” in comparison to the reference soils. Moreover, we expected cities in biomes with more limiting climatic conditions, or where local factors strongly affect soil characteristics, would exhibit the greatest variance across soil types within and among cities. In addition, soil characteristics related to biogenic factors (OC, TN) would vary the most because of differences in climate and human efforts to overcome limiting environmental conditions. The comparison of soils among and within the five cities suggests that anthropogenic, and to a lesser degree native, factors interact in the development of soils in urban landscapes. In particular, characteristics affected by anthropogenic processes and closely associated with biogenic processes (OC, TN) converged, while characteristics closely associated with parent material (K, P) did not converge, but rather diverged, across all soil habitat types. These results partially supported the urban ecosystem convergence hypothesis in that a convergence occurred for soil characteristics affected by climatic conditions. However, the divergence of K and P was unexpected and warrants adjusting the hypothesis to account for variations in anthropogenic effects (e.g., management) that may occur within soil habitat types impacted by humans