New uses for old tools: Reviving Holdridge Life Zones in soil carbon persistence research

Hermann F Jungkunst, Thomas Horvath, Jan Goepel, Simone Ott, Melanie Brunn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Growing evidence suggests that climate classification facilitates the identification of zones that
either agree or disagree with processes explaining soil organic carbon (SOC) persistence.
Already forty years ago, Post et al. (1982) posited that the strict temperature and precipitationbased
classification defining the Holdridge Life Zones (HLZ) provides a descriptive tool to guide
our understanding of the heterogeneous distribution of global SOC stocks. Here we argue that
this classification has the potential for describing SOC persistence by linking top-down and bottom-
up approaches from different scales, which allows selection of individual regional relevancies
necessary to manage and track the fate of our largest terrestrial carbon (C) reservoir.
Original languageAmerican English
JournalJournal of Plant Nutrition and Soil Science
StatePublished - 2021


  • carbon management
  • climate classification
  • global carbon distribution
  • soil organic carbon persistence


  • Soil Science
  • Natural Resources Management and Policy
  • Climate

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