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Serpentine Geoecology of Western North AmericaGeology, Soils, and Vegetation$
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Earl B. Alexander, Roger G. Coleman, Todd Keeler-Wolfe, and Susan P. Harrison

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780195165081

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780195165081.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 18 June 2021

Animals, Fungi, and Microorganisms

Animals, Fungi, and Microorganisms

7 (p.79) Animals, Fungi, and Microorganisms
Serpentine Geoecology of Western North America

Earl B. Alexander

Roger G. Coleman

Todd Keeler-Wolfe

Susan P. Harrison

Oxford University Press

Although plants are the major living components of terrestrial geoecosystems, other organisms are very important. Some animals move large amounts of soil, and many microoganisms promote the weathering of rocks and minerals in soils. Perhaps the greatest effects of animals, fungi, and microorganisms on geoecosystems are indirect through their effects on plants and plant communities. Mycorrhizal fungi are beneficial to plants in nutrient-limiting substrates where the fungi can scavenge phosphorous and nitrogen for plants. Many animals, from large ungulates (moose, elk, deer, etc.) to microscopic nematodes, graze on the leaves and roots of plants. Microorganisms cause many diseases in plants. A complete inventory of plant interactions with other organisms is virtually limitless. This chapter concentrates on organisms that live in serpentine soils, that live on ultramafic rocks, or that are dependent on plants that grow on serpentine soils. There have been few field investigations of living organisms, other than plants, on serpentine soils. Many of the investigations on animals, fungi, and microorganisms in serpentine soils of the western North America have been conducted on Jasper Ridge in San Mateo County, and some have been on Coyote Ridge in Santa Clara County and on the McLaughlin Reserve in Napa and Lake counties, California. Some investigations of animals and other organisms for which there are no published accounts relating to serpentine soils in western North America (e.g., termites) are cited from other areas. The associations of organisms with serpentine soils, whether utilization or avoidance, largely depend on the chemistry of the soil parent materials. Therefore, this chapter begins with a review of the effects of serpentine chemistry on living organisms. Organisms are about 50% or more water. Moss plants that are less than 50% water when desiccated can absorb much more water than their dry weights to increase their weights several fold within hours. About half of the biomass of living organisms that is not water is carbon. Other than water, carbon dominates the chemistry of all organisms. It forms large polymers that are far beyond the capabilities of other elements. Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is the primary source of carbon in soils.

Keywords:   aluminum, beetles, cadmium, earthworms, gabbro, hydrogen, inert gases, lichens, mantle

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