Introduction to Earth, Soil, and Land in California / Edition 1

Paperback (Print)
Buy New
Buy New from
Used and New from Other Sellers
Used and New from Other Sellers
from $4.75
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
(Save 80%)
Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (15) from $4.75   
  • New (7) from $10.00   
  • Used (8) from $4.75   


Following his acclaimed guides to air, fire, and water, David Carle now offers a fascinating exploration of one more primary element of the natural world—the land beneath our feet. From earthworms and earthquakes to Earth Day, this concise, engaging guide is a multifaceted primer on the literal foundation of California’s environment. Carle tells how soil ecosystems function, discusses what lives in the soil, and examines various soil types. He then turns to the relationship between humans and the land, and investigates the various uses and abuses that land in California endures: large scale agriculture, mining, and development, as well as fires, floods, and erosion. The guide also details the history of land use in the state, making it an essential resource for understanding our total reliance on soil, the marvelous substrate that is the basis of life.

• Covers the entire state, including California’s wildlands, farmland, cities, and landfills

• Assesses California’s ecological footprint on planet Earth

• Discusses many different life forms found in soil, including bacteria, fungi, insects, and mammals

• Features 92 color photographs and 18 maps

A book in the Californians and Their Environment subseries, dedicated to understanding human influences on the state's ecology and natural resources

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A fascinating look at the land in California. . . . He explains how this amazing ecosystem functions, and he does it in an understandable way. There are lots of photographs that bring a potentially very dull subject to life. Carle has written guides on air, fire and water. His work goes on my recommended list."--Fresno Bee, Earth Log
Earth Log Fresno Bee
“A fascinating look at the land in California. . . . He explains how this amazing ecosystem functions, and he does it in an understandable way. There are lots of photographs that bring a potentially very dull subject to life. Carle has written guides on air, fire and water. His work goes on my recommended list.”
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780520266810
  • Publisher: University of California Press
  • Publication date: 9/15/2010
  • Series: California Natural History Guides Series
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 1,465,443
  • Product dimensions: 5.10 (w) x 11.08 (h) x 0.54 (d)

Meet the Author

David Carle worked as a California State Park ranger for twenty-seven years. His books include
Introduction to Water in California,
Introduction to Air in California,
Introduction to Fire in California,
all from UC Press.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents



Ecosystems Beneath our Feet 1

Soil Profiles and Categories 3

Cities in the Soil 20

Soil Respiration: The Carbon Cycle, 22

Soil Respiration: The Nitrogen Cycle, 25

Decomposition, 27

Decomposers, Partners, and Parasites 30

Bacteria, 30

Fungi, 31

Biocrusts 34

Shredders, Grazers, and Predators 36

Protozoans, 36

Mites, 37

Springtails, 38

Nematodes, 40

Earthworms, 42

Sidebar: Vermiculture, 45

Ants, 47

Termites, 49

Pill Bugs, 50

Millipedes, 51

Dung Beetles, 51

Snails and Slugs, 52

Higher-Level Predators 54

Antlions, 54

Scorpions, 55

Centipedes, 55

Tarantulas and Trapdoor Spiders, 55

Spider Wasps, 57

Yellowjacket Wasps, 58

Burrowers for Shelter and Food 59

Spadefoot Toads and Cicadas, 59

Desert Tortoise, 61

Moles and Gophers, 62

Ground Squirrels, 64

Badgers, 65

Bank Swallows, 66

Burrowing Owls, 67

The Human Footprint On California Land 71

Lines on the Land 76

The Other Grid System, 79

Harvesting Wealth from the Earth 83

"They Treated Soil Like Dirt," 85

"Land" Becomes "Real Estate," 89

Wild Land 97

Fire and Soil 101

Wildland Management 104

"Protect, Restore, Maintain, and Sustain" (State Parks), 105

"Habitats upon Which They Depend" (Fish & Game), 108

"Unimpaired for... Future Generations" (National Parks), 109

"Land of Many Uses" (USDA Forest Service), 111

"Management, Protection, Development and Enhancement" (Bureau of Land Management), 112

"Understand, Appreciate, and Wisely Use" (U.S. Fish & Wildlife), 114

"Stewardship Responsibilities" (Department of Defense), 115

"Where Man Himself Is a Visitor" (Wilderness Areas), 116

"Embrace Life!" (Local Parks), 117

"A Beautiful, Restored, and Accessible Coastline" (Commissions and Conservancies), 119

"Legacy Projects" (Nongovernmental Organizations), 121

Who Owns All That Ranch Land? 122

Untamed Land 128

Earthquakes, 128

Volcanoes, 137

Landslides, 141

Reality Checks, 143

The Living Soil Made My Lunch 147

Why Farmlands Matter 149

Dirt First! 157

Preventing Erosion, 162

Manufactured Fertilizers, 162

Sidebar: Homemade Soil, 164

Thirsty Farmlands, 166

Death by a Thousand Cuts 168

Preservation Planning, 171

The End of Agriculture? 173

Walking Softly: California's Footprint On The Earth 177

Mount Trashmores 179

Ecological Footprints 181

Compassionate Numbers 185

From Earthworms to Earth Day 190

Online Resources 193

References 197

Art Credits 205

Additional Captions 209

Index 211

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)