In the following, some ecological background information of use in understanding the possibilities and constraints of terrestrial semi-field methods is presented.
Soil forms a thin layer over the earth’s surface and acts as the interface between the atmosphere and lithosphere. Soil consists of mineral material, organic matter at various stages of decay, plant roots, soil biota, water, and gases. On the one hand, soil provides a medium for an astounding variety of organisms that use the soil as habitat and a source of energy. On the other hand, the organisms contribute to the formation of soil by influencing the soil’s physical and chemical properties and the nature of vegetation that grows on it. The 5 interacting soil-forming factors are the parent material, climate, relief, biota, and time. Natural and anthropogenic factors lead to spatial and temporal changes in soil biological communities.