The effects of grazing intensity on soil processes in a Mediterranean protected area

The effects of grazing intensity on soil processes in a Mediterranean protected area We investigated the temporal and among-site differentiation of soil functionality properties in fields under different grazing intensities (heavy and light) and compared them to those found in their adjacent hedgerows, consisting either of wooden shrubs (Rubus canescens) or of high trees (Populus sp.), during the cold and humid seasons of the year. We hypothesized that greater intensity of grazing would result in higher degradation of the soil system. The grazing factor had a significant effect on soil organic C and N, microbial biomass C, microbial biomass N, microbial activity, and β-glucosidase, while acid phosphatase and urease activity were not found to differ significantly among the management systems. The intensity of grazing affected mostly the chemical properties of soil (organic C and N) and altered significantly the composition of the soil microbial community, as lower C:N ratio of the microbial biomass indicates the dominance of bacteria over fungi in the heavily grazed fields. All estimated biological variables presented higher values in the humid period, although the pattern of differentiation was similar at both sampling times, revealing that site-specific variations were more pronounced than the time-specific ones. Our results indicate that not all C, N, and P dynamics were equally affected by grazing. Management plans applied to pastures, in order to improve soil quality properties and accelerate passive reforestation, should aim at the improvement of soil parameters related primarily to C and secondly to N cycle. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Environmental Monitoring and Assessment Springer Journals

The effects of grazing intensity on soil processes in a Mediterranean protected area

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Publisher
Springer International Publishing
Copyright
Copyright © 2017 by Springer International Publishing AG
Subject
Environment; Monitoring/Environmental Analysis; Environmental Management; Ecotoxicology; Atmospheric Protection/Air Quality Control/Air Pollution; Ecology
ISSN
0167-6369
eISSN
1573-2959
D.O.I.
10.1007/s10661-017-6161-6
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

We investigated the temporal and among-site differentiation of soil functionality properties in fields under different grazing intensities (heavy and light) and compared them to those found in their adjacent hedgerows, consisting either of wooden shrubs (Rubus canescens) or of high trees (Populus sp.), during the cold and humid seasons of the year. We hypothesized that greater intensity of grazing would result in higher degradation of the soil system. The grazing factor had a significant effect on soil organic C and N, microbial biomass C, microbial biomass N, microbial activity, and β-glucosidase, while acid phosphatase and urease activity were not found to differ significantly among the management systems. The intensity of grazing affected mostly the chemical properties of soil (organic C and N) and altered significantly the composition of the soil microbial community, as lower C:N ratio of the microbial biomass indicates the dominance of bacteria over fungi in the heavily grazed fields. All estimated biological variables presented higher values in the humid period, although the pattern of differentiation was similar at both sampling times, revealing that site-specific variations were more pronounced than the time-specific ones. Our results indicate that not all C, N, and P dynamics were equally affected by grazing. Management plans applied to pastures, in order to improve soil quality properties and accelerate passive reforestation, should aim at the improvement of soil parameters related primarily to C and secondly to N cycle.

Journal

Environmental Monitoring and AssessmentSpringer Journals

Published: Aug 8, 2017

References

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