Martin C. Rabenhorst, Environmental Science & Technology, University of Maryland, College Park, MD, Mark Stolt, 112 Kingston Coastal Institute Bldg, University of Rhode Island, Kingston, RI and David Lindbo, Soil Science Division, USDA-NRCS, Washington, DC
Early soil classification systems recognized wet soils at the highest categorical level. Bog soils and half-bog soils were among the great soil groups in the US classification utilized between the 1920s and 1960. In other systems, groups named with such terms as ground water gley and pseudogley were also used. With the advent of Soil Taxonomy and is precursor (1960, 1975) histosols (organic soils) were distinguished as one of the initial 10 soil orders, and while many of these organic soils are wet soils, some are not (Folists for example). Thus, for over 50 years, with the exception of Histosols, wet soils (which typically represent the wettest end of subaerial wet soils) have not been collectively recognized within taxa at the highest categorical level (order). Rather, wet soils were designated at the second categorical level as wet (aqu) suborders among the various soil orders, and more recently, subaqueous soils as wass suborders. Notwithstanding, other contemporary soil classification systems do (continue to) recognize wet soils at the highest level. In the World Reference Base (WRB) for example, wet soils are designated as Gleysols or Stagnosols. As efforts are underway to revisit, simplify and revise Soil Taxonomy, questions have been raised regarding whether wet soils should again be moved back with a place among taxa at the highest category using names such as Hydrasols, Aquasols, etc. This paper will explore and consider the questions and arguments for and against such proposals.