Article

Biogeomorphology and Zoogeomorphology

David R. Butler

in Geography

ISBN: 9780199874002
Published online February 2013 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780199874002-0061
Biogeomorphology and Zoogeomorphology

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Biogeomorphology and zoogeomorphology are subfields of the discipline of geomorphology, the study of landforms and land-forming processes. Biogeomorphology encompasses the study of the effects of plants and animals on the landscape, as well as how geomorphic processes (e.g., running water, glacial ice, wind, wave action, landslides and mass movements) affect the distribution of plants and animals. Zoogeomorphology is a subfield of biogeomorphology that specifically focuses on the study of the geomorphic effects of animals. “Phytogeomorphology” is a term sometimes used for the study of the interaction of geomorphic processes and plants. The term “ecogeomorphology” is frequently used as a synonym for “biogeomorphology.” Scientists who study biogeomorphology and zoogeomorphology come from both the disciplines of geomorphology as well as from ecology. In ecology, the term “ecosystem engineering” has emerged since around 1990 to indicate the effects that both animals and plants may have in shaping the landscapes in which they live. Biogeomorphology emerged in the late 1980s as a significant subfield of geomorphology; prior to that time, although a few studies and general observations concerning the interactions of plants or animals and geomorphic processes had been recorded, the field of geomorphology was primarily focused on conceptual models of how entire broad regions achieved the appearance they presented over time. With the increasing focus of geomorphologists on finer-scale studies and measurements of surface processes after about the 1970s, biogeomorphology began to be seen as an important subdiscipline for the measurement and understanding of surface processes. Most of the studies of biogeomorphology that were initiated in the 1980s focused on the interaction of surface processes with vegetation. Zoogeomorphology was slower to develop, and was not even formally defined as a subfield of biogeomorphology until 1992. Zoogeomorphology remains a minority subcomponent of biogeomorphology today, although it is the focus of research for an increasing number of geomorphologists around the world.

Article.  9251 words. 

Subjects: Earth Sciences and Geography ; Human Geography

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