AskDefine | Define hydric

Dictionary Definition

hydric adj : having or characterized by excessive moisture; "a hydric habitat" [ant: mesic, xeric]

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. Characterized by, or requiring moisture
  2. Of, or relating to hydrogen


Extensive Definition

A hydric soil is a soil that formed under conditions of saturation, flooding, or ponding long enough during the growing season to develop anaerobic conditions in the upper part.


Most soils are aerobic. This is important because plant roots respire (that is, they consume oxygen and carbohydrates while releasing carbon dioxide) and there must be sufficient air -- especially oxygen -- in the soil to support most forms of soil life. Air normally moves through interconnected pores by forces such as changes in atmospheric pressure, the flushing action of rainwater, and by simple diffusion.
In addition to plant roots, most forms of soil microorganisms need oxygen to survive. This is true of the more well-known soil animals as well, such as ants, earthworms and moles. But soils can often become saturated with water due to rainfall and flooding. Gas diffusion in soil slows (some 10,000 times slower) when soil becomes saturated with water because there are no open passageways for air to travel. When oxygen levels become limited, intense competition arises between soil life forms for the remaining oxygen. When this anaerobic environment continues for long periods during the growing season, quite different biological and chemical reactions begin to dominate, compared with aerobic soils. In soils where saturation with water is prolonged and is repeated for many years, unique soil properties usually develop that can be recognized in the field. Soils with these unique properties are called hydric soils, and although they may occupy a relatively small portion of the landscape, they maintain important functions in the environment.



Environmental Laboratory. 1987. Corps of Engineers Wetland Delineation Manual, Technical Report Y-87-1, U.S. Army Engineer Waterways Experiment Station, Vicksburg, Miss. Url ( pdf]) last accessed [[2006-04-16
Soil Conservation Service. 1994. National Food Security Act Manual. Title 180. USDA Soil Conservation Service, Washington, D.C.
Soil Survey Staff. 1999. Soil Taxonomy: A Basic System of Soil Classification for Making and Interpreting Soil Surveys. USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, Agric. Hdbk. 436, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 869 pp.
Soil Survey Staff. 1994. National Soil Survey Handbook. USDA Soil Conservation Service, Washington, D.C.
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