Development of vegetation based soil quality indices for mineralized terrane in arid and semi-arid ecosystems.

Blecker, S.W. and STILLINGS, L.L. and MCAMACHER, M.C. and Ippolito, J.A. and DECRAPPEO, N.M. (2012) Development of vegetation based soil quality indices for mineralized terrane in arid and semi-arid ecosystems. JOURNAL OF ECOLOGICAL INDICATORS. 20(September 2012):65-74. 9 March 2012.

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Abstract

Soil quality indices are often management driven and attempt to describe key relationships between above- and below-ground parameters. In terrestrial systems, indices that were initially developed and modified for agroecosystems have been applied to non-agricultural systems in increasing number. We developed a soil quality index in arid and semi-arid ecosystems of the Western US impacted by different types of geologic mineralization using the relationship between vegetation community parameters and soil abiotic and biotic properties. We analyzed these relations in soils associated with three different mineralization types: podiform chromite, Copper/Molybdenum porphyry, and acid-sulfate gold vein systems at four different sites in California and Nevada. Soil samples were collected from undisturbed soils in both mineralized and nearby unmineralized substrates as well as from waste rock and tailings. Aboveground net primary productivity, canopy cover and shrub density were measured for the vegetative communities. Minimum data sets were developed based on correlations between the soil and vegetation parameters, refined using principal components analysis, scored using non-linear functions, and combined into an overall soil quality index. The indices are comprised of one or two microbial parameters and three to six abiotic parameters, the latter consisting of nutrients and metals. Given the preliminary development of this approach, the parameters and combinations to arrive at a soil quality index for a given site cannot at this time be correlated or compared with that of another site. This soil quality index approach provides a means of quantifying disturbed ecosystem recovery resulting from mining, and could be applied to other disturbances in a way that readily distills the information for potential use by land managers.

Item Type: Article
NWISRL Publication Number: 1413
Subjects: Soil > Soil quality
Soil
Depositing User: Michelle Wayment
Date Deposited: 19 Sep 2013 21:18
Last Modified: 19 Sep 2013 21:18
Item ID: 1448
URI: https://eprints.nwisrl.ars.usda.gov/id/eprint/1448

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