Rygiewicz, Paul T., and Elaine R. Ingham. 1999. Soil Biology and Ecology. In: R.W. Fairbridge and D.E. Alexander, editors, Encyclopedia of Environmental Science, pp 564-668. Kluwer Academic Publishers.
The term "Soil Biology," the study of organism groups living in soil, (plants, lichens, algae, moss, bacteria, fungi, protozoa nematodes, and arthropods), predates "Soil Ecology," the study of interactions between soil organisms as mediated by the soil physical environment. Soil Ecology evolved between the late 1950's and the 1970's from research at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Michigan State University, Colorado State University and the University of Georgia, coincident with the International Biological Programme, which emphasized understanding processes that define ecosystems. Insight and rigor developed the area into a discrete discipline with the formation of the Soil Ecology Society in 1987. By 1990, many universities offered courses in soil ecology, emphasizing organism community structure, nutrient cycling, system productivity, physiology and biochemistry of organism groups and their interactions. This chapter is aimed at university-level, and other educated, scientifically minded readers. The volume should appeal to high school, colleges and universities, in fact, wherever a reference source is needed for introductory courses on the world's contemporary environmental problems.