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Soil Science Society of America Journal Abstract - DIVISION S-5—NOTES

Cicada burrows as indicators of paleosols in the inland pacific northwest


This article in SSSAJ

  1. Vol. 66 No. 5, p. 1584-1586
    Received: May 4, 2001

    * Corresponding author(s): ogee2191@uidaho.edu
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  1. A. T. O'Geen *a,
  2. P. A. McDaniela and
  3. A. J. Busaccab
  1. a Soil Science Division, Dep. of Plant, Soil & Entomological Sciences, Univ. of Idaho, Moscow, ID 83844-2339
    b Dep. of Crop and Soil Sciences, Washington State Univ., Pullman, WA 99164-6420


Cicada nymphs (Homoptera: Cicadidae) are soil-dwelling insects that form cylindrical back-filled burrows. These unique burrow features persist in soils for thousands of years and are common in soil descriptions in arid and semiarid regions of the inland Pacific Northwest (PNW). We examined the burrowing depth of live cicada nymphs and found that burrowing is concentrated in the upper 50 cm of soil. This depth may be used to distinguish between contemporary and relict burrows in soil profiles developed in transported parent materials, and can serve as a means of identifying paleosols from observations of burrows at greater depths. We then searched all official soil series descriptions within the USDA-NRCS State Soil Geographic (STATSGO) data base for cicada-burrowed horizons below the active burrowing depth to identify buried paleosols. We suggest that evidence of cicada nymph activity can be used to assess soil–stratigraphic relationships at broad scales in the inland PNW.

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Copyright © 2002. Soil Science SocietyPublished in Soil Sci. Soc. Am. J.66:1584–1586.