soil organic carbon


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t: The goal of this Master’s thesis project, which was carried out in July and August of 2016, was to assess the effect of inferred grazing intensity on 1) vegetation cover type and 2) soil organic carbon (SOC) at the Jornada Experimental Range in southern New Mexico. A sampling transect was established at each of 3 long term cattle water sources (85-106 years old), beginning 5m from the water source and continuing 1500m outward. Soil bulk density, soil organic carbon, soil organic nitrogen, and dominant plant cover type (shrub, grass, and bare soil) were sampled at 20 locations on each transect. Two hypotheses evaluated in this study are: 1) higher grazing pressure near the water source will lead to reduced vegetation cover and C inputs into the soil, leading to higher SOC stocks in soil with far proximity to the water source; and 2) Grazing very close to the water source will exert high disturbance and deposit SOC via defecation, leading to higher SOC stocks in soil with close proximity to the water source.


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