Landscapes and ecosystems exhibit patterns that emerge as a result of the feedbacks that constrain the evolution of such systems. In particular, at the Earth´s surface, hydrogeomorphological processes affect and, in turn, are affected by complex interactions between ecosystems and the organisms they support. Feedback loops that arise in these systems operate across various spatial and temporal scales. Thus, incidental processes (e.g., landslides, forest fires) may be perceived as disturbances in the case of established ecosystems whereas, in turn, biologically driven landscape changes potentially could impact process rates. Crucial from this perspective is the presence of vegetation which for example controls soil production and denudation rates but at the same time is subject to anthropogenic interventions (e.g., clear-cutting, reforestation, but also land abandonment). Despite broad acknowledgment of the reciprocal linkages between hydro-geomorphological processes, soil development and ecosystem functions, there are significant gaps of knowledge in the quantification and understanding of these feedbacks. This impairs our ability to define adequate management and mitigation strategies now we are widely confronted with environmental change. Therefore, this interdisciplinary session brings together geomorphologists, hydrologists, ecologists and soil scientists who are interested in quantifying and understanding the interactions and feedbacks between soils, ecosystems and hydro-geomorphological processes. It aims to promote discussions between these different and complementary disciplines and to improve our ability to reconstruct and project evolutionary trajectories of landscapes and ecosystems. A key question of this session is how these systems respond to the impacts of anthropogenic and natural disturbance regimes according to their feedback dynamics.
Veerle Vanacker (Geomorphology Outstanding Young Scientist Award & Penck Lecture 2012), ELI-TECLIM-University of Louvain , 'Dynamic soil properties in response to anthropogenic disturbance'