Sign on gate of ESGRESGR Soils

The E.S. George Reserve is a research facility belonging to the University of Michigan Museum of Zoology. It is located about 30 miles NW of Ann Arbor (location map). It contains about 1500 acres of marsh, bogs, old-fields, and forest. While closed to the public, it is open to researchers for ecological and evolutionary projects. Currently, a number of faculty and graduate students from the University of Michigan and other institutions conduct research on its flora and fauna.


The importance of understanding soils

Soil is fundamental to plant ecology. Plants root in soil, drawing their water and nutrients from the ground. They compete for soil resources as well as light.

Soil characteristics control the availability of essential plant nutrients and water. Through this, soils control the nature of plant competition. At low soil productivities, either through water limitation or nutrient limitation, plants complete only for soil resources. Only after soil resources reach adequate levels can plants begin to shade each other in light competition.

There are a lot of resources for understanding soils on the Web. Some great places to start include The World Wide Soil Jumpstation, Soils Online, and the USDA National Soils Access Facility.

Unearthing the soil maps

While a number of soil surveys were conducted at the Reserve, most recently by Veatch in 1953 and Shelton in 1963, these soil maps were never published and were not much utilized by researchers since that time. The goal of this project is to make the soil maps and soil classifications done in the 1950s and 1960s available to researchers on-line.

It is not clear from reading the documentation by Shelton whether he was aware of Veatch's earlier map. The Veatch map is more detailed and more finished than the Shelton map, but the Shelton soil classifications include information on the specific soil series to which each soil type corresponds. So, I will present Veatch's 1953 map and add the information that Shelton provides in his 1963 descriptions.

Mapping the E. S. George Reserve

To facilitate research and to document the locations of collections, a map and grid system have long existed for the E.S. George Reserve. To bring these materials into the computer age, in 1997 Tim Howard, Ph.D., created GIS maps of the Reserve, utilizing aerial photographs and survey information. He ground-proofed his vegetation classifications and verified map coordinates with GPS.

I will add the soils information to the existing GIS maps of the E.S. George Reserve.

Project Directory:

Dunrie Greiling,
Department of Biology, University of Michigan