24 Nov 2021

24 Nov 2021

Review status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal SOIL.

Evolutionary pathways in soil-landscape evolution models

W. Marijn van der Meij W. Marijn van der Meij
  • Institute of Geography, University of Cologne, Albertus-Magnus-Platz, 50923 Cologne, Germany

Abstract. Soils and landscapes can show complex, non-linear evolution, especially under changing climate or land use. Soil-landscape evolution models (SLEMs) are increasingly equipped to simulate the development of soils and landscapes over long timescales under these changing drivers, but provide large data output that can be difficult to interpret and communicate. New tools are required to analyse and communicate large model output.

In this work, I show how spatial and temporal trends in previously published model results can be summarized and conceptualized with evolutionary pathways, which are possible trajectories of the development of soil patterns. Simulated differences in rainfall and land use control progressive or regressive soil development and convergence or divergence of the soil pattern. These changes are illustrated with real-world examples of soil development and soil complexity.

The use of evolutionary pathways for analysing the results of SLEMs is not limited to the examples in this paper, but they can be used on a wide variety of soil properties, soil pattern statistics and models. With that, evolutionary pathways provide a promising tool to analyse and communicate soil model output, not only for studying past changes in soils, but also for evaluating future spatial and temporal effects of soil management practices in the context of sustainability.

W. Marijn van der Meij

Status: open (until 05 Jan 2022)

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W. Marijn van der Meij

W. Marijn van der Meij


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Short summary
The development of soils and landscapes can be complex, due to the changing climate and land use. Computer models are required to simulate this complex development. This research presents a new method to analyse and communicate the results of these models. This is done with the use of evolutionary pathways (EPs), which describe how soil properties change in space and through time. I illustrate the EPs with examples from the field and give recommendations for further use of EPs in model studies.