Grazing impacts on spatial distribution of soil and herbaceous characteristics in an Australian tropical woodland
Authors: Northup, B.; Brown, J.; Ash, A.
Source: Agroforestry Systems, Volume 65, Number 2, November 2005 , pp. 137-150(14)
Abstract:This study examined effects of different levels of applied grazing pressures on herbaceous vegetation (standing crop, basal area, size and spacing of grass tussocks) and soil properties (total soil C, total N, total P, and soil-borne plant material [roots and surface litter] in the A horizon) around grass tussocks of a dry eucalypt woodland (dominant woody components; Eucalyptus xanthoclada and Corymbia erythrophloia of northern Australia. Grass tussocks influenced total soil C and N at small (<20 cm) spatial scales, and applied grazing pressures significantly (p<0.05) affected all soil properties except total P. Concentrations of N and C were highest at locations close to plants, and levels in proximity to plants declined under sustained heavy grazing. Paddocks receiving heavier grazing pressures also produced less standing crop and tussocks were smaller and more widely dispersed. Further, areas with high amounts of soil C, N and soil-borne plant materials were smaller and more widely dispersed under heavy grazing. Alternatively, conservative grazing pressure in combination with wet season grazing deferments allowed conservation of landscape condition. Eucalypt woodlands in northern Australia have low resistance to disturbance, and limited resilience to recover following disturbance. As such, the effects of disturbance on these areas should be monitored by combinations of plant (basal area, plant spacing) and soil (soil-borne plant material, total N) characteristics capable of detecting degradation at the earliest stages possible.
Document Type: Research article
Publication date: 2005-11-01