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Preprints, Working Papers, ... Year : 2011

European Humus Forms Reference Base

Rein de Waal
  • Function : Author
Bas van Delft
  • Function : Author
Rolf Kemmers
  • Function : Author


In Europe an abundance of humus taxonomies exists starting with early approaches in the late 19th century. Frequently used in an international context, they do not cover all site conditions in the European area. Although having basic concepts and general lines, the European (and North American, Canadian) classification systems differ in important parameters used for the description and classification of humus forms. These discrepancies result in incongruities, so require adjustments when exchanging partially compatible soil data, even between nearby countries. In 2003, 26 European specialists in humus forms met in Trento (Italy) and decided to formulate rules of classification based on morphogenetic descriptions and diagnostic horizons, adapted to European ecological conditions. Taking into account old and new European and North American systems of humus forms classification, six main references (Anmoor, Mull, Moder, Mor, Amphi and Tangel) were defined, each of them further dividing into detailed categories. This inventory assigned a strong discriminatory power to the action of the pedofauna. Both semiterrestrial (anoxic) and terrestrial (aerated) topsoils were classified. The descriptors of the diagnostic horizons were conceived in accordance with the spirit of recent international soil classifications. Assigning an “ecological value” to each main humus form along a gradient dividing those characterized by accumulation of poorly transformed organic matter, from very biologically active forms degrading and incorporating all organic remains, this European system of classification avoids a hierarchical structure and allows an elastic approach open to additional ecological contributions and renditions.
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Dates and versions

hal-00541496 , version 1 (01-12-2010)
hal-00541496 , version 2 (01-02-2011)


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Augusto Zanella, Bernard Jabiol, Jean-François Ponge, Giacomo Sartori, Rein de Waal, et al.. European Humus Forms Reference Base. 2011. ⟨hal-00541496v2⟩
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