Soil microtopography on grazing gradients in Chihuahuan Desert grasslands

TitleSoil microtopography on grazing gradients in Chihuahuan Desert grasslands
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2003
AuthorsNash M.S., Jackson E., Whitford WG
JournalJournal of Arid Environments
Date PublishedSeptember 1, 200
Accession NumberJRN00398
ARIS Log Number150428

The significant impacts of livestock in the creation of piospheres centered on water points is the loss of soil microtopography across a `landscape' that has been influenced by many years of livestock grazing. The size, height, and spatial distribution of micromounds and surrounding depressions were measured by a modified erosion bridge at three distances (50, 450, and 1050 m) from water points in desert grassland pastures in the Jornada Basin, New Mexico, USA. Plots at 50m had fewer micromounds and the mounds were smaller than those recorded on the more distant plots. Microtopography of plots at 450m from water was not significantly different from that recorded at 50m. Microtopography of plots that were 1050m from water points was significantly different from that of plots nearer water points. Strong correlation between microtopography and the cover of long-lived perennial grasses (R2=91%) was found, such dependence could be used for assessing the trend in organic matter content that is in concordance with that of microtopography. Loss of microtopography from the impact of livestock in piospheres exacerbates erosion processes and contributes to desertification.