Rangeland Soil Erosion and Soil Quality: Role of Soil Resistance, Resilience, and Disturbance Regime

TitleRangeland Soil Erosion and Soil Quality: Role of Soil Resistance, Resilience, and Disturbance Regime
Publication TypeBook Chapter
Year of Publication1998
AuthorsHerrick JE, Weltz M.A., Reeder J.D., Schuman G.E., Simanton J.R.
Book TitleSoil Quality and Soil Erosion
PublisherCRC Press
CityColumbus, OH
ARIS Log Number096090

The relationships between rangeland soil quality, soil resilience, and soil erosion depend on several interacting factors: (1) landscape and climate characteristics, (2) current disturbance regime, and (3) recent and evolutionary disturbance history. These factors tend to be more variable across rangelands than across agricultural lands. There are at least four specific relationships between soil quality and soil erosion which involve soil resistance or soil resilience. The first is the historical resistance of the soil to past disturbances, which can serve as an indicator of soil quality. Second, the current resistance of the soil to disturbance is related to soil erosion potential. The third relationship is the current resilience of the system following soil erosion. Finally, soil erosion is a driver in the system which determines soil quality. This final relationship illustrates the need to view the system dynamically: soil erosion both reflects and affects soil quality. These dynamic relationships depend, in turn, on the characteristics of historic and current disturbance regimes. Both ecosystems and species tend to evolve in response to dominant disturbance regimes, such as fire, drought, and grazing. The resistance and/or resilience of the system will tend to be higher for disturbance regimes which share key characteristics with historic and evolutionary patterns.