Matching Items (19)

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Soil biogeochemical consequences of the replacement of residential grasslands with water-efficient landscapes

Description

As a result of growing populations and uncertain resource availability, urban areas are facing pressure from federal and state agencies, as well as residents, to promote conservation programs that provide services for people and mitigate environmental harm. Current strategies in

As a result of growing populations and uncertain resource availability, urban areas are facing pressure from federal and state agencies, as well as residents, to promote conservation programs that provide services for people and mitigate environmental harm. Current strategies in US cities aim to reduce the impact of municipal and household resource use, including programs to promote water conservation. One common conservation program incentivizes the replacement of water-intensive turfgrass lawns with landscapes that use less water consisting of interspersed drought-tolerant shrubs and trees with rock or mulch groundcover (e.g. xeriscapes, rain gardens, water-wise landscapes). A handful of previous studies in experimental landscapes have shown that converting a turfgrass yard to a shrub-dominated landscape has the potential to increase rates of nitrate (NO3-) leaching. However, no studies have examined the drivers or patterns across diverse management practices. In this research, I compared soil nutrient retention and cycling in turfgrass and lawn-alternative xeriscaped yards along a chronosequence of time since land cover change in Tempe, Arizona, in the semi-arid US Southwest. Soil inorganic extractable nitrogen (N) pools were greater in xeriscapes compared to turfgrass lawns. On average xeriscapes contained 2.5±0.4 g NO3--N/m2 in the first 45 cm of soil, compared to 0.6±0.7 g NO3--N/m2 in lawns. Soil NO3--N pools in xeriscaped yards also varied significantly with time: pools were largest 9-13 years after cover change and declined to levels comparable to turfgrass at 18-21 years. Variation in soil extractable NO3--N with landscape age was strongly influenced by management practices that control soil water availability, including shrub cover, the presence of sub-surface plastic sheeting, and the frequency of irrigation. This research is the first to explore the ecological outcomes and temporal dynamics of an increasingly common, ‘sustainable’ land use practice that is universally promoted in US cities. Our findings show that transitioning from turfgrass to water-efficient residential landscaping can lead to an accumulation of NO3--N that may be lost from the soil rooting zone over time, through leaching following irrigation or rainfall. These results have implications for best management practices to optimize the benefits of water-conserving residential yards.

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Created

Date Created
2015

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Eolian deposition and soil fertility in a prehistoric agricultural complex in central Arizona

Description

Prehistoric farmers in the semi-arid American Southwest were challenged by marked spatial and temporal variation in, and overall low levels of, precipitation with which to grow their crops. One strategy they employed was to modify their landscape with rock alignments

Prehistoric farmers in the semi-arid American Southwest were challenged by marked spatial and temporal variation in, and overall low levels of, precipitation with which to grow their crops. One strategy they employed was to modify their landscape with rock alignments in order to concentrate surface water flow on their fields. A second challenge that has been less focused on by archaeologists is the need to maintain soil fertility by replenishing nutrients removed from the soil by agricultural crops. Numerous studies have shown that rock alignments can result in long-lasting impacts on soil properties and fertility. However, the direction and magnitude of change is highly variable. While previous work has emphasized the importance of overland flow in replenishing soil nutrient pools, none have investigated the influence of eolian deposition as a contributor of mineral-derived nutrients. This thesis explores the effects of the construction of rock alignments, agricultural harvest, and eolian deposition on soil properties and fertility on Perry Mesa within the Agua Fria National Monument. This site experienced dramatic population increase in the late 1200s and marked depopulation in the early 1400s. Since that time, although agriculture ceased, the rock alignments have remains, continuing to influence runoff and sediment deposition. In the summer of 2009, I investigated deep soil properties and mineral-derived nutrients on fields near Pueblo La Plata, one of the largest pueblos on Perry Mesa. To examine the effects of rock alignments and agricultural harvest independent of one another, I sampled soils from replicated plots behind alignments paired with nearby plots that are not bordered by an alignment in both areas of high and low prehistoric agricultural intensity. I investigated soil provenance and the influence of deposition on mineral-derived nutrients through analysis of the chemical composition of the soil, bedrock and dust. Agricultural rock alignments were significantly associated with differences in soil texture, but neither rock alignments nor agricultural history were associated with significant differences in mineral-derived nutrients. Instead, eolian deposition may explain why nutrient pools are similar across agricultural history and rock alignment presence. Eolian deposition homogenized the surface soil, reducing the spatial heterogeneity of soils. Dust is important both as a parent material to the soils on Perry Mesa, and also a source of mineral-derived nutrients. This investigation suggests that prehistoric agriculture on Perry Mesa was not likely limited by long term soil fertility, but instead could have been sustained by eolian inputs.

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Date Created
2012

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Pore water pressure response of a soil subjected to traffic loading under saturated and unsaturated conditions

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This study presents the results of one of the first attempts to characterize the pore water pressure response of soils subjected to traffic loading under saturated and unsaturated conditions. It is widely known that pore water pressure develops within the

This study presents the results of one of the first attempts to characterize the pore water pressure response of soils subjected to traffic loading under saturated and unsaturated conditions. It is widely known that pore water pressure develops within the soil pores as a response to external stimulus. Also, it has been recognized that the development of pores water pressure contributes to the degradation of the resilient modulus of unbound materials. In the last decades several efforts have been directed to model the effect of air and water pore pressures upon resilient modulus. However, none of them consider dynamic variations in pressures but rather are based on equilibrium values corresponding to initial conditions. The measurement of this response is challenging especially in soils under unsaturated conditions. Models are needed not only to overcome testing limitations but also to understand the dynamic behavior of internal pore pressures that under critical conditions may even lead to failure. A testing program was conducted to characterize the pore water pressure response of a low plasticity fine clayey sand subjected to dynamic loading. The bulk stress, initial matric suction and dwelling time parameters were controlled and their effects were analyzed. The results were used to attempt models capable of predicting the accumulated excess pore pressure at any given time during the traffic loading and unloading phases. Important findings regarding the influence of the controlled variables challenge common beliefs. The accumulated excess pore water pressure was found to be higher for unsaturated soil specimens than for saturated soil specimens. The maximum pore water pressure always increased when the high bulk stress level was applied. Higher dwelling time was found to decelerate the accumulation of pore water pressure. In addition, it was found that the higher the dwelling time, the lower the maximum pore water pressure. It was concluded that upon further research, the proposed models may become a powerful tool not only to overcome testing limitations but also to enhance current design practices and to prevent soil failure due to excessive development of pore water pressure.

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Created

Date Created
2011

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Seasonality and ecosystem response in two prehistoric agricultural regions of central Arizona

Description

This thesis explores the independent effects of the manipulation of rocks into alignments, prehistoric farming, and season on soil properties in two areas with a history of prehistoric agriculture in central Arizona, Pueblo la Plata within the Agua Fria National

This thesis explores the independent effects of the manipulation of rocks into alignments, prehistoric farming, and season on soil properties in two areas with a history of prehistoric agriculture in central Arizona, Pueblo la Plata within the Agua Fria National Monument (AFNM), and an archaeological site north of the Phoenix basin along Cave Creek (CC). Soil properties, annual herbaceous biomass and the physical properties of alignments and surface soils were measured and compared across the landscape, specifically on: 1) agricultural rock alignments that were near the archaeological site 2) geologically formed rock alignments that were located 0.5-1 km away from settlements; and 3) areas both near and far from settlements where rock alignments were absent. At AFNM, relatively well-built rock alignments have altered soil properties and processes while less-intact alignments at CC have left few legacies.

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Created

Date Created
2011

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Soil moisture availability and energetic controls on belowground network complexity and function in arid ecosystems

Description

The explicit role of soil organisms in shaping soil health, rates of pedogenesis, and resistance to erosion has only just recently begun to be explored in the last century. However, much of the research regarding soil biota and soil processes

The explicit role of soil organisms in shaping soil health, rates of pedogenesis, and resistance to erosion has only just recently begun to be explored in the last century. However, much of the research regarding soil biota and soil processes is centered on maintaining soil fertility (e.g., plant nutrient availability) and soil structure in mesic- and agro- ecosystems. Despite the empirical and theoretical strides made in soil ecology over the last few decades, questions regarding ecosystem function and soil processes remain, especially for arid areas. Arid areas have unique ecosystem biogeochemistry, decomposition processes, and soil microbial responses to moisture inputs that deviate from predictions derived using data generated in more mesic systems. For example, current paradigm predicts that soil microbes will respond positively to increasing moisture inputs in a water-limited environment, yet data collected in arid regions are not congruent with this hypothesis. The influence of abiotic factors on litter decomposition rates (e.g., photodegradation), litter quality and availability, soil moisture pulse size, and resulting feedbacks on detrital food web structure must be explicitly considered for advancing our understanding of arid land ecology. However, empirical data coupling arid belowground food webs and ecosystem processes are lacking. My dissertation explores the resource controls (soil organic matter and soil moisture) on food web network structure, size, and presence/absence of expected belowground trophic groups across a variety of sites in Arizona.

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Date Created
2014

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Theoretical and empirical investigations of ecosystem development in boreal wetlands

Description

Despite the breadth of studies investigating ecosystem development, an underlying theory guiding this process remains elusive. Several principles have been proposed to explain ecosystem development, though few have garnered broad support in the literature. I used boreal wetland soils as

Despite the breadth of studies investigating ecosystem development, an underlying theory guiding this process remains elusive. Several principles have been proposed to explain ecosystem development, though few have garnered broad support in the literature. I used boreal wetland soils as a study system to test a notable goal oriented principle: The Maximum Power Principle (MPP). The MPP posits that ecosystems, and in fact all energy systems, develop to maximize power production or the rate of energy production. I conducted theoretical and empirical investigations to test the MPP in northern wetlands.

Permafrost degradation is leading to rapid wetland formation in northern peatland ecosystems, altering the role of these ecosystems in the global carbon cycle. I reviewed the literature on the history of the MPP theory, including tracing its origins to The Second Law of Thermodynamics. To empirically test the MPP, I collected soils along a gradient of ecosystem development and: 1) quantified the rate of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) production--literally cellular energy--to test the MPP; 2) quantified greenhouse gas production (CO2, CH4, and N2O) and microbial genes that produce enzymes catalyzing greenhouse gas production, and; 3) sequenced the 16s rRNA gene from soil microbes to investigate microbial community composition across the chronosequence of wetland development. My results suggested that the MPP and other related theoretical constructs have strong potential to further inform our understanding of ecosystem development. Soil system power (ATP) decreased temporarily as the ecosystem reorganized after disturbance to rates of power production that approached pre-disturbance levels. Rates of CH4 and N2O production were higher at the newly formed bog and microbial genes involved with greenhouse gas production were strongly related to the amount of greenhouse gas produced. DNA sequencing results showed that across the chronosequence of development, the two relatively mature ecosystems--the peatland forest ecosystem prior to permafrost degradation and the oldest bog--were more similar to one another than to the intermediate, less mature bog. Collectively, my results suggest that ecosystem age, rather than ecosystem state, was a more important driver for ecosystem structure and function.

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Created

Date Created
2015

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Net effect: social media as a catalyst for political reform into the age of cyberspace warfare : exploring the revolutionary narrative of social media

Description

The purpose of this study is to examine if there exists a discrepancy between popular Westernized notions about the role of social media and the notions of those affected by the Green Revolution in Iran in 2009 and assess how

The purpose of this study is to examine if there exists a discrepancy between popular Westernized notions about the role of social media and the notions of those affected by the Green Revolution in Iran in 2009 and assess how this might change the dominant discourse of cyber-utopia. The internet has most certainly transformed our lives in unforeseeable ways having various and unknown shifting effects but the purpose of this research is to view the dominant discourse of liberation in comparison with the perceived meaning and function of the internet and social media within anti-democratic regimes. The awareness of global misconceptions are imperative to move away from the popular norm and scope of research that uses framing tactics of liberation and democratization because the development, adoption and political consequences of any technological tool within any society will always tell a story. The net effect of social media was silenced soon after the Green Revolution and many Iranians are still experiencing the consequences of their actions. The dark side of internet freedom in authoritative governments will assuredly play a role in forming a more comprehensive understanding of the revolutionary narrative that is social media as well as contributing to the overall relationship of how the internet influences the political realm. Iran represents a unique situation to analyze due to its politically closed landscape and historical global misperception about Iranian society and its citizenry. Through the utilization of personal narratives of individual Iranians directly or indirectly involved within the movement and an overview of global trends of suppression of online speech, this research attempts to show that no i universal framework exists when it comes to the discourse about social media because the characteristics of a society will ultimately drive the forces that influence technological manifestation.

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Date Created
2012

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Impact of restoration practices on mycorrhizal inoculum potential in a semi-arid riparian ecosystem

Description

Mycorrhizal fungi form symbiotic relationships with plant roots, increasing nutrient and water availability to plants and improving soil stability. Mechanical disturbance of soil has been found to reduce mycorrhizal inoculum in soils, but findings have been inconsistent. To examine the

Mycorrhizal fungi form symbiotic relationships with plant roots, increasing nutrient and water availability to plants and improving soil stability. Mechanical disturbance of soil has been found to reduce mycorrhizal inoculum in soils, but findings have been inconsistent. To examine the impact of restoration practices on riparian mycorrhizal inoculum potential, soil samples were collected at the Tres Rios Ecosystem Restoration and Flood Control Project located at the confluence of the Salt, Gila, and Agua Fria rivers in central Arizona. The project involved the mechanical removal of invasive Tamarix spp.( tamarisk, salt cedar) and grading prior to revegetation. Soil samples were collected from three stages of restoration: pre-restoration, soil banks with chipped vegetation, and in areas that had been graded in preparation for revegetation. Bioassay plants were grown in the soil samples and roots analyzed for arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) and ectomycorrhizal (EM) infection percentages. Vegetations measurements were also taken for woody vegetation at the site. The mean number of AM and EM fungal propagules did not differ between the three treatment area, but inoculum levels did differ between AM and EM fungi with AM fungal propagules detected at moderate levels and EM fungi at very low levels. These differences may have been related to availability of host plants since AM fungi form associations with a variety of desert riparian forbs and grasses and EM fungi only form associations with Populus spp. and Salix spp. which were present at the site but at low density and canopy cover. Prior studies have also found that EM fungi may be more affected by tamarisk invasions than AM fungi. Our results were similar to other restoration projects for AM fungi suggesting that it may not be necessary to add AM fungi to soil prior to planting native vegetation because of the moderate presence of AM fungi even in soils dominated by tamarisk and exposed to soil disturbance during the restoration process. In contrast when planting trees that form EM associations, it may be beneficial to augment soil with EM fungi collected from riparian areas or to pre-inoculate plants prior to planting.

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Date Created
2012

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Soil Microbial Responses to Different Precipitation Regimes Across a Southwestern United States Elevation Gradient

Description

Soil organic carbon (SOC) is a critical component of the global carbon (C) cycle, accounting for more C than the biotic and atmospheric pools combined. Microbes play an important role in soil C cycling, with abiotic conditions such as soil

Soil organic carbon (SOC) is a critical component of the global carbon (C) cycle, accounting for more C than the biotic and atmospheric pools combined. Microbes play an important role in soil C cycling, with abiotic conditions such as soil moisture and temperature governing microbial activity and subsequent soil C processes. Predictions for future climate include warmer temperatures and altered precipitation regimes, suggesting impacts on future soil C cycling. However, it is uncertain how soil microbial communities and subsequent soil organic carbon pools will respond to these changes, particularly in dryland ecosystems. A knowledge gap exists in soil microbial community responses to short- versus long-term precipitation alteration in dryland systems. Assessing soil C cycle processes and microbial community responses under current and altered precipitation patterns will aid in understanding how C pools and cycling might be altered by climate change. This study investigates how soil microbial communities are influenced by established climate regimes and extreme changes in short-term precipitation patterns across a 1000 m elevation gradient in northern Arizona, where precipitation increases with elevation. Precipitation was manipulated (50% addition and 50% exclusion of ambient rainfall) for two summer rainy seasons at five sites across the elevation gradient. In situ and ex situ soil CO2 flux, microbial biomass C, extracellular enzyme activity, and SOC were measured in precipitation treatments in all sites. Soil CO2 flux, microbial biomass C, extracellular enzyme activity, and SOC were highest at the three highest elevation sites compared to the two lowest elevation sites. Within sites, precipitation treatments did not change microbial biomass C, extracellular enzyme activity, and SOC. Soil CO2 flux was greater under precipitation addition treatments than exclusion treatments at both the highest elevation site and second lowest elevation site. Ex situ respiration differed among the precipitation treatments only at the lowest elevation site, where respiration was enhanced in the precipitation addition plots. These results suggest soil C cycling will respond to long-term changes in precipitation, but pools and fluxes of carbon will likely show site-specific sensitivities to short-term precipitation patterns that are also expected with climate change.

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Date Created
2019

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Characterizations of soil layers artificially deposited on glass and photovoltaic coupons

Description

The deposition of airborne dust, especially in desert conditions, is very problematic as it leads to significant loss of power of photovoltaic (PV) modules on a daily basis during the dry period. As such, PV testing laboratories around the world

The deposition of airborne dust, especially in desert conditions, is very problematic as it leads to significant loss of power of photovoltaic (PV) modules on a daily basis during the dry period. As such, PV testing laboratories around the world have been trying to set up soil deposition stations to artificially deposit soil layers and to simulate outdoor soiling conditions in an accelerated manner. This thesis is a part of a twin thesis. The first thesis, authored by Shanmukha Mantha, is associated with the designing of an artificial soiling station. The second thesis (this thesis), authored by Darshan Choudhary, is associated with the characterization of the deposited soil layers. The soil layers deposited on glass coupons and one-cell laminates are characterized and presented in this thesis. This thesis focuses on the characterizations of the soil layers obtained in several soiling cycles using various techniques including current-voltage (I-V), quantum efficiency (QE), compositional analysis and optical profilometry. The I-V characterization was carried out to determine the impact of soil layer on current and other performance parameters of PV devices. The QE characterization was carried out to determine the impact of wavelength dependent influence of soil type and thickness on the QE curves. The soil type was determined using the compositional analysis. The compositional data of the soil is critical to determine the adhesion properties of the soil layers on the surface of PV modules. The optical profilometry was obtained to determine the particle size and distribution. The soil layers deposited using two different deposition techniques were characterized. The two deposition techniques are designated as “dew” technique and “humidity” technique. For the same deposition time, the humidity method was determined to deposit the soil layer at lower rates as compared to the dew method. Two types of deposited soil layers were characterized. The first type layer was deposited using a reference soil called Arizona (AZ) dust. The second type layer was deposited using the soil which was collected from the surface of the modules installed outdoor in Arizona. The density of the layers deposited using the surface collected soil was determined to be lower than AZ dust based layers for the same number of deposition cycles.

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Created

Date Created
2016