Matching Items (2)

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Vegetation Controls on Erosion, Soil Organic Carbon Pools, and Soil Nitrogen Pools in a Dryland Ecosystem

Description

Drylands (arid and semi-arid grassland ecosystems) cover about 40% of the Earth's surface and support over 40% of the human population, most of which is in emerging economies. Human development

Drylands (arid and semi-arid grassland ecosystems) cover about 40% of the Earth's surface and support over 40% of the human population, most of which is in emerging economies. Human development of drylands leads to topsoil loss, and over the last 160 years, woody plants have encroached on drylands, both of which have implications for maintaining soil viability. Understanding the spatial variability in erosion and soil organic carbon and total nitrogen under varying geomorphic and biotic forcing in drylands is therefore of paramount importance. This study focuses on how two plants, palo verde (Parkinsonia microphylla, nitrogen-fixing) and jojoba (Simmondsia chinensis, non-nitrogen fixing), affect sediment transport and soil organic carbon and total nitrogen pools in a dryland environment north of Phoenix, Arizona. Bulk samples were systematically collected from the top 10 cm of soil in twelve catenae to control for the existence and type of plants, location to canopy (sub- or intercanopy, up- or downslope), aspect, and distance from the divide. Samples were measured for soil organic carbon and total nitrogen and an unmanned aerial system-derived digital elevation map of the field site was created for spatial analysis. A subset of the samples was measured for the short-lived isotopes 137Cs and 210Pbex, which serve as proxy erosion rates. Erosional soils were found to have less organic carbon and total nitrogen than depositional soils. There were clear differences in the data between the two plant types: jojoba catenae had higher short-lived isotope activity, lower carbon and nitrogen, and smaller canopies than those of palo verde, suggesting lower erosion rates and nutrient contributions from jojoba plants. This research quantifies the importance of biota on influencing hillslope and soil dynamics in a semi-arid field site in central AZ and finishes with a discussion on the global implications for soil sustainability.

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  • 2018

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Impacts of Off-Highway Vehicle Activity on Land Cover Change and Dune Dynamics: Algodones Dunes, California

Description

Use of off-highway vehicles (OHV) in natural landscapes is a popular outdoor activity around the world. Rapid-growing OHV activity causes impacts on vegetation and land cover within these landscapes and

Use of off-highway vehicles (OHV) in natural landscapes is a popular outdoor activity around the world. Rapid-growing OHV activity causes impacts on vegetation and land cover within these landscapes and can be an important factor in land degradation and ecosystem change. The Algodones Dunes in southeastern California is one of the largest inland sand dune complexes in the United States and hosts many endangered species. This study examines changes in land cover and OHV activity within two OHV active sites in comparison to an adjoined protected area. The study also investigates potential associations between land cover changes, climate trends, and OHV activity over recent decades. Time-series analysis was used to investigate the spatial-temporal changes and trends in the land cover in the Algodones Dunes from 2001 to 2016. In addition, high-resolution aerial photographs were analyzed to determine spatial patterns of OHV usage in comparison to visitor estimation collected by the Bureau of Land Management and observed changes in land cover composition between the control site and OHVs areas.

A decreasing trend in Normalized Difference Vegetation Index over time indicates a decline in the amount of vegetation cover, which corresponds with an increasing trend in albedo and land surface temperature. Results also show a substantial difference in land cover between the control site and OHVs areas, which typically have a lower amount of vegetation cover, higher exposed sand surface, and increased anthropogenic features. Both climatic variations and OHV activity are statistically associated with land cover change in the dune field, although distinct causal mechanisms for the observed declines in vegetation cover could not be separated. The persistence of drought could inhibit vegetation growth and germination that, in turn, would hinder vegetation recovery in OHV areas. Meanwhile, repeated OHV driving has direct physical impacts on vegetation and landscape morphology, such as canopy destruction, root exposure, and increased aeolian sand transport. Active ecosystem protection and restoration is recommended to mitigate the response of declining vegetation cover and habitat loss to the impacts of OHV activity and climatic variability and allow natural recovery of re-establishement of nebkha dune ecosystems in the Algodones Dunes.

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Date Created
  • 2018