Spatial variability of soil properties affected by grazing intensity in Inner Mongolia grassland.

Zhao, Ying, Peth, Stephan, Krümmelbein, Julia, Horn, Rainer, Wang, Z., Steffens, M., Hoffmann, C. and Xinhua, P. (2007) Spatial variability of soil properties affected by grazing intensity in Inner Mongolia grassland. Ecological Modelling, 205 . pp. 241-254.

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Analysis of the spatial variability of soil properties is important to interpret the site-specific ecosystems not only with respect to process investigations but also to model upscaling. This paper aims to study the effects of the grazing intensity on soil physical and mechanical properties and their interactions in a Leymus chinensis steppe of the Xilin River Basin, Inner Mongolia, China. The investigated sites were subjected to five grazing intensities (ungrazed since 1979, ungrazed since 1999, winter grazing, continuous grazing and heavy grazing). Soil water content (SWC), hydraulic conductivity (K), water drop penetration time (WDPT), shear strength (SS), soil organic carbon (SOC) concentration, bulk density (BD), and soil texture were measured at a grid with 15 m sampling distance on the surface soil during the period of 2004–2005. The data were analyzed using descriptive statistics and geostatistics. The correlation and interaction between soil properties were analyzed by the methods of Pearson correlation, partial correlation and multiple regression analysis. The results showed that spatial distributions of soil properties could be well described by spherical or exponential models. The ranges of spatial dependence were the highest for WDPT and the lowest for SS. Grazing decreased SWC, SOC and WDPT but increased BD and SS. Multiple regression analysis showed significant correlations among SWC, K, WDPT, SOC and BD; as well as between SS and silt content. Soil compaction induced by sheep trampling, especially in the heavily grazed site, inclined to a homogenous spatial distribution of soil properties, which will possibly enhance soil vulnerability to water and nutrient loss, and consequently reduce the plant available water and thus grassland productivity.

Document Type: Article
Research affiliation: Kiel University
Refereed: Yes
ISSN: 0304-3800
Date Deposited: 24 Mar 2011 08:15
Last Modified: 25 Feb 2019 14:06

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