The development and change over time (evolution) of geomorphic, soil, hydrological, and ecosystems (Earth surface systems; ESS) is often, perhaps mostly, characterized by multiple potential developmental trajectories. That is, rather than an inevitable monotonic progression toward a single stable state or climax or mature form, often there exist multiple stable states or potentially unstable outcomes, and multiple possible developmental pathways. Until late in the 20th century, basic tenets of geosciences, ecology, and pedology emphasized single-path, single-outcome conceptual models such as classical vegetation succession; development of mature, climax, or zonal soils; or attainment of steady-state or some other form of stable equilibrium. As evidence accumulated of ESS evolution with, e.g., nonequilibrium dynamics, alternative stable states, divergent evolution, and path dependency, the "headline" was the existence of > 2 potential pathways, contesting and contrasting with the single-path frameworks. Now it is appropriate to address the question of why the number of actually observed pathways is relatively small.The purpose of this post is to explore why some developmental sequences are rare vs. common; why some are non-recurring (path extinction), and some are reinforced.


In a 2009 article I introduced the concept of a geomorphological niche, defined as the resources available to drive or support a particular geomorphic process (the concept has not caught on). The niche is defined in terms of a landscape evolution space (LES), given by

where H is height above a base level, rho is the density of the geological parent material, g is the gravity constant, and A is surface area. The k’s are factors representing the inputs of solar energy and precipitation, and Pgrepresents the geomorphically significant proportion of biological productivity (see this for the  background and justification).


Just published in Geomorphology:

Samonil, P., Danek, P., Adam, D., Phillips, J.D. 2017. Breakage or uprooting: how tree death affects hillslope processes in old-growth temperate forestsGeomorphology 299: 276-284. 

The abstract is below:

Posted 14 November 2017


Community as a Minor Utopia

Wednesday, October 4, 2017 - 4:00pm
Gatton, Room 311


Axiomatic approaches to science and mathematics depend on an underlying set of statements, principles, or propositions that apply to all situations within the domain of study. The axioms run the gamut from undisputed universal laws to widely or even universally accepted but unproved or unprovable generalizations, to propositional stipulations adopted for analytical convenience or because they raise interesting questions.

Examples abound in mathematics and formal logic, and in science, engineering and technological applications of math and logic. Although it is only occasionally referred to as such, the laws of stratigraphy (details in any geology textbook) form an axiomatic approach to sedimentology, sedimentary geology, and related palaeoenvironmental studies. The laws of original horizontality, lateral continuity, superposition, and cross-cutting relationships are assumed in this approach to apply to all sedimentary deposits, and therefore form an axiomatic system for interpretation.

Tips for NSF proposals in the Social Sciences

Dr. Jeffrey Mantz will go through the basics of NSF applications, talk about specific programs, and give some general grant writing advice. Mantz is Program Director in Cultural Anthropology and Human Subjects Research Officer at the National Science Foundation, where he has served since 2012. He holds a PhD in Anthropology from the University of Chicago and has previously taught at George Mason University, Cornell University, California State University at Stanislaus, and Vassar College. His own research takes him to the Caribbean and Central Africa, where he explores issues related to inequality, resource extraction, and commodity supply chains.

Thursday, September 22, 2016 - 12:00pm to 1:30pm
18th Floor, Patterson Office Tower
Type of Event (for grouping events):

Introduction to New Maps Plus

Why New Maps Plus?

The New Maps Plus graduate programs at the University of Kentucky offer students a challenging, intensive, digital mapping curriculum that emphasizes the acquisition of technical skills—coding, GIS, web development—while also preparing students to critically address the complexity of today’s information ecosystem.

Read more about how New Maps Plus is unique:

Eighth Summer Institute in Economic Geography Held at UK

The University of Kentucky College of Arts and Scienceslast week hosted the Summer Institute in Economic Geography. With a 10-year history in supporting economic geography, the college and its Department of Geography welcomed young scholars from across the globe to Lexington. This is the first time the institute has returned to the U.S. since 2006 when it was hosted by the University of Wisconsin at Madison.



Jennifer Hyndman - Refugees on the Edge: 'Distant Suffering' or Domesticated Distance?



Part of the 44th Annual Ellen Churchill Semple Day

Aprill 22, 2016 Department of Geography College of Arts & Sciences University of Kentucky




Subscribe to RSS - geography
Enter your linkblue username.
Enter your linkblue password.
Secure Login

This login is SSL protected