UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Towards a taxonomic classification of humus forms : third approximation Klinka, Karel; Krestov, Pavel; Fons, Jaume; Chourmouzis, Christine


The importance of humus form or forest floor as a principal component of terrestrial forest ecosystems has led to the development of a taxonomic classification of humus forms for BC (first approximation: Klinka et al. 1981; second approximation: Green et al. 1993). This classification, as all others, is based on the field-observable (morphological) features because we expect that they reflect differences in the nature and development of humus forms. However, there is a continuing need to test (1) whether humus forms that appear different are in fact different in their physical, chemical, and biotic properties, and (2) the portability of the classification outside the area in which it was developed. As a result of recent studies of the biotic component of humus forms and recent testing of the classification outside British Columbia (Scandinavia, southeastern Russia, and northeastern China), we have recognized several new diagnostic horizons, and hence new taxa. In this pamphlet, we present synopsis of the third approximation of the classification for review and testing. For more detailed information on the background, methodology, and classification of humus forms, the readers should consult Green et al. (1993). Each humus form is represented by the sequence of organic and mineral horizons that constitute the humus form profile. Identification of a humus form, i.e., giving it a name, requires description of the humus form profile – the identification of master and subordinate horizons. For this reason we have included a description of the horizon designations as well as a synopsis of the classification and a key to the identification of humus forms.

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