GEOGRAPHICAL RESEARCH ›› 2019, Vol. 38 ›› Issue (12): 2941-2956.doi: 10.11821/dlyj020190240

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Review for the effects of urban topsoil on the ecological health

XU Guoliang1,2, WEN Ya3, CAI Shaoyan4, LUO Xiaofeng1   

  1. 1. School of Geographical Sciences, Guangzhou University, Guangzhou 510006, China
    2. Rural Non-point Source Pollution Comprehensive Management Technology Center of Guangdong Province, Guangzhou 510006, China
    3. Resources and Environment College, South China Agricultural University, Guangzhou 510642, China
    4. Guangdong University of Finance, Guangzhou 510521, China
  • Received:2019-04-08 Revised:2019-05-13 Online:2019-12-20 Published:2019-12-25


Human-land relationship is one of the core fields for the integrated geographical studies in the new era. The rapid urbanization has promoted the outbreak of human-land conflicts. Pedosphere, the most active part in the earth's critical zones, is the key ecological factor for the active man-land relationships in urban environments. Urban topsoil plays a key role in man-land relationships at regional scale, however, few previous studies discussed its ecological roles. Many studies have reported soil property changes, heavy metal and organic pollutions during urbanization, but the positive or negative feedback effects in the sink-source procession remains unclear. Meanwhile, despite numerous assessments about the urban ecosystem heath, few studies have been done about the responses of soil fauna as an important indicator for urban environmental change and ecological health risks considering its diversity and sensitivity to environmental changes. This study discussed the impacts of urban topsoil on ecological health. Urban topsoil, as a crucial ecological habitat and a crucial interplay with the atmosphere and the water, can make active positive or negative responses to urban anthropogenic activities. Thus, it is a critical interface for man-land interaction in the urban ecosystems. The changes in organisms as well as physical and chemical properties during urbanization, can diversely impact the health of soil and increase the health risks of human beings. Some perspectives on future studies were also proposed in this study, including more concerns on the interface effects of the urban topsoil, long-term, multiscale and systematic research programs, and biological and ecological studies on urban topsoil animals.

Key words: urbanization, topsoil, ecosystem health, urban area, human-land relationship