Phytoliths as indicators of process in soils

G. S. Humphreys, D. M. Hart, N. A. Symons, R. J. Field

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference proceeding contributionpeer-review


    Two hypotheses concerning the mobility of phytoliths are evaluated in this paper. The first describes an implied assumption that phytoliths remain with the host sediment/ soil and is referred to as the static phytolith hypothesis. The alternative recognises the potential for movement, especially downwards, and is referred to as the mobile phytolith hypothesis. Both hypotheses were evaluated on three soil types in three different ways utilising the concept of phytolith depth functions (PDFs) on (i) trends in concentration, (ii) trends in diversity of the assemblage and (iii) trends in concentration of spherical and platey morphologies. The results indicate general support for the mobile and not the static phytolith hypothesis. In detail, a complex picture emerged. In two soil types (a podzol and a yellow podzolic) a consistent PDF occurred between total concentration and diversity but not with concentration of platey or spherical forms. The other soil type (solodic) revealed little consistency in trends between the different indices. In all cases there is strong evidence for biomixing, and in the sandy podzol for pervection.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationPhytolith and starch research in the Australian-Pacific-Asian regions
    Subtitle of host publicationthe state of the art : papers from a conference held at the ANU, August 2001, Canberra, Australia
    EditorsDiane Hart, Lynley Wallis
    Place of PublicationCanberra, ACT
    PublisherPandanus Books
    Number of pages12
    ISBN (Print)1740760395
    Publication statusPublished - 2003
    EventPhytolith and starch research in the Australian-Pacific-Asian regions : the state of the art - Canberra
    Duration: 1 Aug 20013 Aug 2001

    Publication series

    NameTerra Australis
    PublisherPandanus Books
    ISSN (Print)0725-9018


    ConferencePhytolith and starch research in the Australian-Pacific-Asian regions : the state of the art


    • phytoliths
    • phytolith depth function
    • soils
    • soil process
    • pervection
    • bioturbation


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