The Soil Structure Differences between Montane and Arboreal Forest Floors

Differences between mountain and forest soil include parent material, climate, animals, topography and time. If any of these factors differ, the soil composition will change. Parent material refers to where the soil originated. Climate has to with weather and erosion. Animals live and move in and out of the soil, increasing its fertility. Topography has to do with soil texture and its altitude. Time is what all soil needs to became either mountain or forest soil.

Basic structure

Basic structure. Soil contains minerals, air, organic materials and water. Each of these factors affects the structure of the soil. Porosity, acid, and texture also contribute to the soil’s structure.

Parent material

In mountains, the parent material is granite or bedrock. Rocks and minerals pushed by glaciers are important parent material. In forests, it is more difficult to decipher what parent material is there. However, forest soil has more litter and topsoil than mountain soil.


Mountain soils do not absorb water in the same way that forest soils do. Mountain soils contain minerals that do not move out as readily as forest soils. Consequently, mountains soils are eroded soils. Weathering has pushed off more of the soil in forest soil. Weathering effects how porous a soil is. Soil that has more holes will allow water to enter it easily.


Forest soils contain more living organisms than mountain do. Animals cannot readily burrow in the mountain soils because they are too hard. Worms and other invertebrates move through forest soil easily. Soil temperature, acidity, and soil-water relations strongly influence the activity of soil organisms. They contribute improved soil structure, nutrient changes and fertility, enhanced productivity and aeration.


Plants also play a part in the structure of soils. In the mountains, fewer plants grow than in the forest.


In the forest, streams and rivers run through it and carry nutrients to the soil. Mountains have many altitudes and different terrains, from meadows to cliffs, and also mountain streams, each with different soil structures. Steepness, run-off and plants all contribute to topography and how the soil reacts. Erosion changes the soil structure faster than it can make it.


This refers to the age of the soil. Older soils have endured more weathering and often are more fertile than young soils. However, depending on the above conditions that may or may not be a true statement. Mountain soils are probably older than forest soils. This is mainly because of erosion and run-off  for soils wind up in the forest, more so than remain on the mountain, due to weathering and erosion.

Soil structure differences between mountain and forests are age, living organisms, weathering and climate, and parent material. These factors give the soils a specific texture than makes them hard or soft. Forests have less clay, making them more fertile than mountains with more shale. Mountain soils contain harder minerals than those that reach forests. As the different factors interact with one another, the soil’s composition can change. Soil managers often alter some of the factors, so the soil produces better.