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Soil forming factors can include climate, parent material, vegetation, animal activity, fire and influence by humans.

I have investigated a podzol soil profile with horizons LFH, AH, AE, BF and parent material.

I can see how climate would affect the LFH, AH AND AE. Precipitation has caused these horizons to be cohesive and climate has provided a growing period for plants, which has caused a presence of organic materials in these layers.

Vegetation has also played a role in the LFH, AH and AE. The roots of plants and trees have caused a presence of organic materials in these horizons.

I am not quite sure if animal activity has played a role in the soil profile. Besides the decomposition of bodies and the fertilization by faeces, I am not sure if animal presence has played any more of a role than this. There was also no evidence of fire in these horizons that I witnessed.

My question is, if animal presence is a contributing factor, what horizons would it play a role in?

Also, I'm not quite sure how humans or parent material have influenced soil profile. Looking for some guidance with this.

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  • $\begingroup$ Hello, and welcome to Stack Exchange. This is an extremely technical question, but you don't really make clear what the actual question is, other than just "please explain all this to me." It's too broad for us to answer at this point; if you have a more specific question, please edit it in. $\endgroup$ – Daniel Griscom Oct 24 '16 at 0:38
  • $\begingroup$ I don't think it is all that broad - I think it just needs an edit to bring the real question through the background. It's not my area, so I don't feel competent to do the edit myself. Voting to close for now, but if the asker can put a one sentence summary of the actual question - perhaps in bold - I will gladly vote to re-open. $\endgroup$ – Semidiurnal Simon Oct 25 '16 at 14:14
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Other ways that animals can affect soils is by burrowing, overturning soil through digging or ploughing and also through shallow diggings/scrapings.

Burrows create voids/chambers in soils that can allow air to react with soil beneath the land surface. Likewise they provide easier pathways for water to penetrate soil and affect changes that way.

Overturning soil whether its due to animals looking for food or human agriculture buries soil that was on the surface and brings deeper soil to the surface. It also aerates the top portion of the soil and it allows for easier penetration by water and it provides a greater surface area of soil to be exposed to the air in the atmosphere.

Shallow digging or scrapings by animals, particularly in very hard capped soils can create broken patches that allow water to penetrate a hard impervious cap and allow the water to penetrate deeper in the soil than it would otherwise.

Also, once soil has been overturned and aerated, whether by animals or humans, wind can blow away parts of the soil.

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