Friday, June 1, 2012

The geoecology of the limestone and shale areas in Samar, Philippines

Contributed by

Dr. Ian A. Navarrete
Humboldt Fellow
Soil Science of Tropical and Subtropical Ecosystems
Buesgen Institute
University of Göttingen, Germany

Geoecology, a term coined some 41 years ago by the geomorphologist Carl Troll who was at the time professor at the University of Bonn, Germany, is a broad integrative term to the study of forms and functions of terrestrial geoecosystem (Huggett, 1995). It emphasizes the interdependency and/or inter-relationships of the ecological biosphere with landscape and hence sometimes equated with landscape ecology. For example, the movement and distribution of solutes across soil landscapes are influenced by the geomorphic position in the soil within the landscape thus influencing soil genesis (Sommer and Schlichting, 1997) and vegetation development (Huggett, 1975). 

Fig 1. Relation of primary forest and grasslands of Samar
During our fieldwork at the Samar Island Natural Park (along the Paranas-Taft road at about 300 m above sea level) in Feb 2012, we observed two typical grassland ecosystems occurring near or far from the primary forests (Fig 1A).

The first type is the grassland that occurs in the lower residual limestone soil or at the margin of the primary forest. The soils in such grassland are younger as indicated by poor soil profile development. The dominant grass is Paspalum conjugatum which in many areas occur in association with Chromolaena odorata. The second type is the grassland in the degraded rolling and hilly areas usually away from primary forests. The soils in these areas are different from the soils in the primary forest on the upper slopes in that they are mature, reddish, and deep (Fig 1B). They appear to have formed from the limestone residue or from the shale (underlying the limestone) that is widely exposed in the rolling areas. The dominant grass is Imperata cylindrica

Fig 2. Primary forest soil in Samar
The soils of the primary forest (limestone forest) on the upper and usually steep slopes are generally very thin and are underlain by consolidated limestone rocks (Fig 2). The presence of nutrient-enriched weathering pockets (where deposition of nutrient and decomposition of organic matter take place) of the limestone parent material, and the high annual rainfall explain the lush growth of the forest vegetation. It also partly explains the high tree species diversity of the forest.

(Members of the team: V.B. Asio, Ariel Bolledo, Mark Moreno, Pearl Carnice, Richel Lupos, Forester Elpidio Cabahit Jr. from the Samar Island Natural Park, and myself)


Huggett RJ (1975). Soil landscape systems: a model of soil genesis. Geoderma 13: 1-22.
Huggett RJ (1995). Geoecology: An Evolutionary Approach. Routledge, London.
Sommer M, Schlichting E (1997). Archetypes of catenas in respect to matter-a concept for
structuring and grouping catenas. Geoderma 76:1-33.


Cathy Munroe Hotes said...

Dr. Asio,

My husband Stefan (Marburg University) would like you to get in contact with him. Could you please e-mail him as soon as possible at: stefan.hotes(at)

Warm Regards,

Victor B. Asio said...

Hello Cathy,
Thank you very much. Yes, I have already emailed him after I read your comment (I was on travel and did not open my email for 2 days).
Best regards,

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