Role of Plant Species and Ecological Patches in Conserving and Fixing Natural Landsʹ Soil Using Landscape Functional Analysis (LFA) (Case Study: Dehbar Rangeland, Torghabeh, Mashhad, Iran)

Document Type: Research and Full Length Article

Authors

1 Ph.D. Rangeland Sciences, Researcher of Arid Environments Research Center.

2 Faculty of Range Land and Watershed Management Gorgan University of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, Gorgan, Iran

3 Academic Member of Desert Studies Faculty, Semnan University, Iran

4 Ph.D. Student of Rangeland Sciences, Gorgan University of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, Gorgan, Iran

5 Faculty of natural resources, Isfahan University of Technology(IUT),Isfahan, Iran.

Abstract

Degradation of plant patches is considered as one of the indices for rangeland degrading health condition. Investigating the accuracy of triple indices (infiltration, stability and soil nutrient cycle) presented by LFA method seems necessary to determine its efficiency in semi-arid areas with the least cost. This study aims to investigate the role of vegetative species and growing forms on soil surface characteristics in Dehbar semi-steppe rangelands, Iran in 2014. So, eleven soil surface characteristics in different vegetative types each of 3 replicates were measured using landscape functional analysis (LFA). Then, the measured parameters were classified based on their sustainability, permeability and food chain continuum for each plant species. According to the results obtained from various analytical investigations, the ecological patches consisting of Artemisia aucheri (46.83%) and complex of Artemisia aucheri and Agropyron intermedium (with the amount of 41.7%) were higher than other forms of vegetative growth for soil sustainability. The complex of Acantholimon sp., Artemisia aucheri and Astragalus commixtus had the lowest amount in terms of soil sustainability (38%). The comparison of soil permeability indices for different types of plant covers showed that the percentage of Artemisia aucheri (32.06%) and complex of Artemisia aucheri and Agropyron intermedium (33.5%) had the highest amount while all other patches were equal and had the lowest amount. In terms of food chain, the ecological patches such as Artemisia aucheri (25.63%) and complex of Artemisia aucheri and Agropyron intermedium (27.66%) had the highest amount. The complex of Artemisia aucheri and Astragalus commixtus (16.36%), the complex of Acantholimon sp., Artemisia aucheri and Astragalus commixtus (13.63%) and the complex of Acantholimon sp. and Agropyron intermedium (15.36%) had the lowest values (p≤0.01). Therefore, Artemisia aucheri (shrub) and a complex of Artemisia aucheri and Agropyron intermedium (grass) patches, introduced as ecological indicators for the study area, are suggested for rangelands restoration.

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