Biogeochemical Cycling in Forest and Rangeland Soils of the United StatesThis article is part of a larger document. View the larger document here.
In the Sand County Almanac (Leopold 1949), Aldo Leopold writes of the odyssey of element X and thus of the circulation of all nutrient elements as they cycle through the Earth's forests, rangelands, lakes, and oceans. In mid-century, G.E. Hutchinson, while always one to praise aesthetic values, commented disparagingly about the quantitative science of element cycling, specifically that ecosystem carbon (C) data were "wretchedly inadequate" (Hutchinson 1954). Hutchinson's comment was not only a complaint but also a challenge to all ecosystem scientists who followed to quantify the Earth's biogeochemical cycles, for he understood that the resilience and functioning of ecosystems was entirely dependent on how plants, animals, and decomposers used and reused the chemical elements that we call nutrients.