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Animal influences on soil properties and plant cover in the Chafarinas Islands (NW Africa).

AuthorsGarcía, Luis V. ; Marañón, Teodoro ; Clemente Salas, Luis
Soil salinity
Soil fertilization
Bare soil
Standing crop
Soil erosion
Issue Date2002
PublisherGeoforma Ediciones
CitationProceedings International Congress of the European Society of Soil Conservation
Man and Soil at the Third Millenium Volume I: 705-712 (2002)
AbstractSeagull and rabbit proliferation in the Chafarinas Islands (three small semiarid islets in NW Africa) has produced significant changes in physical and chemical properties of the soil, as well as in plant cover. Analysis of preliminary data has shown that soils in areas with a strong seabird influence were significantly higher in soluble salts (electrical conductivity), macronutrients (total N, nitrate, phosphorous, potassium and magnesium), and organic carbon, than soils located in areas with low seabird influence. Water and nutrient retention capacity (related to saturation percentage) and bioavailability of some heavy metal (Zn, Fe, Cd) were increased significantly in seabirdaffected soils. No significant differences in other soil properties (such as soil texture or carbonate contents) were found between seabird-affected and -unaffected areas. On the other hand, percent of bare soil was significantly higher in seabird-affected areas, whereas shrub cover was significantly decreased in those areas. Rabbit grazing (but not seabird presence) strongly reduced above-ground biomass of herbaceous species and soil seed bank density. As long as high seabird density and rabbit pressure significantly reduce plant cover andlor biomass and increase percentage of bare soil, they are relevant factors in conservation strategies of semiarid protected areas. Management practices should be implemented to protect these arid, steep and shallow soils against water erosion.
Description9 páginas, 1 figura, 3 tablas. El congreso tuvo lugar en Valencia, del 28 de marzo al 1 de abril de 2000. We thank Georgina Álvarez for the organization support, Tomás Gómez, Manolo Igual, Jesús Charco, and Paco Robles for field assistance, José M" Alegre for processing plant samples, Rafael López and the IRNAS Analysis Lab staff for chemical analyses, and J. Cara for his help with data and manuscript processing.
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