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Community Structure in a Soil Porous System

Cárdenas, Juan Pablo1; Santiago, Antonio1; Tarquis, Ana María2,3; Losada, Juan Carlos1; Borondo, Florentino4,5; Benito, Rosa M.1

doi: 10.1097/SS.0b013e318245d3ec
Soil Issues

Soil is well recognized as a highly complex system. The interaction and coupled physical, chemical, and biological processes and phenomena occurring in the soil environment at different spatial and temporal scales are the main reasons for such complexity. There is a need for appropriate methodologies to characterize soil porous systems with an interdisciplinary character.

Four different real soil samples, presenting different textures, have been modeled as heterogeneous complex networks, applying a model known as the heterogeneous preferential attachment. An analytical study of the degree distributions in the soil model shows a multiscaling behavior in the connectivity degrees, leaving an empirically testable signature of heterogeneity in the topology of soil pore networks. We also show that the power-law scaling in the degree distribution is a robust trait of the soil model.

Last, the detection of spatial pore communities, as densely connected groups with only sparser connections between them, has been studied for the first time in these soil networks. Our results show that the presence of these communities depends on the parameter values used to construct the network. These findings could contribute to understanding the mechanisms of the diffusion phenomena in soils, such as gas and water diffusion, development and dynamics of microorganisms, among others.

1Grupo de Sistemas Complejos, Departamento de Física, Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, 28040 Madrid, Spain. Dr. Rosa M. Benito is corresponding author. E-mail:

2Departamento de Matemática Aplicada, Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, 28040 Madrid, Spain.

3CEIGRAM, Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, 28040 Madrid, Spain.

4Departamento de Química, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Cantoblanco, 28049 Madrid, Spain.

5Instituto Mixto de Ciencias Matemáticas CSIC-UAM-UCBM-UCM, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Cantoblanco, 28049 Madrid, Spain.

Received February 3, 2011.

Accepted for publication December 8, 2011.

Financial Disclosures/Conflicts of Interest: None reported.

© 2012 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.