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Arizona State University (ASU) 2018

Effects of Grazing Management on Carbon Stocks in an Arid Rangeland

Boydston, Aaron

Titre : Effects of Grazing Management on Carbon Stocks in an Arid Rangeland

Auteur : Boydston, Aaron

Université de soutenance : Arizona State University (ASU)

Grade : Master of Science (MS) 2018

Rangelands are an extensive land cover type that cover about 40% of earth’s ice-free surface, expanding into many biomes. Moreover, managing rangelands is crucial for long-term sustainability of the vital ecosystem services they provide including carbon (C) storage via soil organic carbon (SOC) and animal agriculture. Arid rangelands are particularly susceptible to dramatic shifts in vegetation cover, physical and chemical soil properties, and erosion due to grazing pressure. Many studies have documented these effects, but studies focusing on grazing impacts on soil properties, namely SOC, are less common. Furthermore, studies testing effects of different levels of grazing intensities on SOC pools and distribution yield mixed results with little alignment. The primary objective of this thesis was to have a better understanding of the role of grazing intensity on arid rangeland soil C storage. I conducted research in long established pastures in Jornada Experimental Range (JER). I established a 1500m transect in three pastures originating at water points and analyzed vegetation cover and SOC on points along these transects to see the effect of grazing on C storage on a grazing gradient. I used the line-point intercept method to measure and categorize vegetation into grass, bare, and shrub. Since soil adjacent to each of these three cover types will likely contain differing SOC content, I then used this vegetation cover data to calculate the contribution of each cover type to SOC. I found shrub cover and total vegetation cover to decrease, while grass and bare cover increased with decreasing proximity to the water source. I found areal (g/m2) and percent (go SOC to be highest in the first 200m of the transects when accounting for the contribution of the three vegetation cover types. I concluded that SOC is being redistributed toward the water source via foraging and defecation and foraging, due to a negative trend of both total vegetation cover and percent SOC (g/g). With the decreasing trends of vegetation cover and SOC further from pasture water sources, my thesis research contributes to the understanding of storage and distribution of SOC stocks in arid rangelands

Sujets : Ecology / Biogeochemistry / Range management / Carbon Storage / Rangeland Management / Soil Organic Carbon


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