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Soil surface quality assessment in rangeland ecosystems with different protection levels, central Iran

This study aimed to evaluate the application of landscape function analysis (LFA) and some soil quality indicators for the assessment of the structure and function of Steppe rangelands in arid regions of Ghamishloo National Park, Isfahan, central Iran. Three zones with different protection levels/grazing intensities, including a national park with wild herbivores, a peripheral protected area where both livestock and wild herbivores were present, and an adjacent grazing-free area where wild herbivores were absent, were selected. Eleven soil surface indicators were assessed to measure soil stability, infiltration, and nutrient cycling indices in various zones. Eighty-seven soil samples were collected in the study area and their characteristics, including pH, electrical conductivity (EC), total nitrogen, phosphate, soil organic carbon (SOC), particulate organic matter (POM), microbial respiration, and mean weight diameter (MWD), were measured. The results showed that although structural attributes (patch area index and landscape organization index) and LFA functional attributes varied significantly between the sites with various management histories (P < 0.05), these attributes along with total patch area and number of patches per 10 m did not have significant differences between the protected and grazing-free area. Most soil quality indicators were also significantly different between the national park and grazing-free area, but MWD, SOC, and POM were not significantly different between the protected and grazing-free areas (P < 0.05). High protection level (i.e. lower grazing impact) led to more soil stability and higher proportion of macro-aggregates in the national park area compared to other areas. The methods used in this study are applicable for exploring the role of national parks in maintaining the structure and function of ecosystems in similar ecoregions. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0341816218302753
Journal Papers
ماه: 
December
سال: 
2018

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