Measuring environmental change in forest ecosystems by repeated soil sampling: A north american perspective

Gregory B. Lawrence, Ivan J. Fernandez, Daniel D. Richter, Donald S. Ross, Paul W. Hazlett, Scott W. Bailey, Rock Ouimet, Richard A.F. Warby, Arthur H. Johnson, Henry Lin, James M. Kaste, Andrew G. Lapenis, Timothy J. Sullivan

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


Environmental change is monitored in North America through repeated measurements of weather, stream and river flow, air and water quality, and most recently, soil properties. Some skepticism remains, however, about whether repeated soil sampling can effectively distinguish between temporal and spatial variability, and efforts to document soil change in forest ecosystems through repeated measurements are largely nascent and uncoordinated. In eastern North America, repeated soil sampling has begun to provide valuable information on environmental problems such as air pollution. Th is review synthesizes the current state of the science to further the development and use of soil resampling as an integral method for recording and understanding environmental change in forested settings. The origins of soil resampling reach back to the 19th century in England and Russia. The concepts and methodologies involved in forest soil resampling are reviewed and evaluated through a discussion of how temporal and spatial variability can be addressed with a variety of sampling approaches. Key resampling studies demonstrate the type of results that can be obtained through differing approaches. Ongoing, large-scale issues such as recovery from acidifi cation, long-term N deposition, C sequestration, effects of climate change, impacts from invasive species, and the increasing intensifi cation of soil management all warrant the use of soil resampling as an essential tool for environmental monitoring and assessment. Furthermore, with better awareness of the value of soil resampling, studies can be designed with a long-term perspective so that information can be effi ciently obtained well into the future to address problems that have not yet surfaced.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)623-639
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Environmental Quality
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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