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Application of Soil Multiparametric Indices to Assess Impacts of Grazing in Mediterranean Forests

AuthorsPicazo-Córdoba, Marta I.; García-Saucedo, Francisco; Wic-Baena, Consolación; García Morote, Francisco Antonio; López Serrano, Francisco Ramón; Rubio, Eva CSIC; Moreno-Ortego, Jose Luis CSIC ORCID ; Manuela, Andrés Abellán; Andrés-Abellán, Manuela
KeywordsLivestock unit
Forest–pasture systems
Multiparametric index
Environmental impact
Issue DateApr-2024
PublisherMultidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute
CitationLand 13(4): 411 (2024)
AbstractIn this study, the effects of different stocking rates were quantified in three study areas in a Mediterranean forest (Cuenca, Spain) by applying a multiparametric soil quality index (SQI) developed from undisturbed forest soils (>40 years). The main objective was to advance the development and application of multiparametric indices that allow for soil condition assessment. To fulfill this objective, the effectiveness of the developed multiparametric soil quality index (SQI) was analyzed as an indicator of livestock impacts on soil in the Mediterranean forest. The control areas without livestock activity were forest stands of different ages (a thicket forest stand of <30 years; a high-polewood forest stand of 30–60 years; and an old-growth forest stand of >60 years), which were compared with areas subjected to various grazing intensities (areas with permanent livestock passage: a sheepfold that had been inactive for 2–3 years and an active sheepfold; areas with intermittent livestock passage: a bare-soil area, a pine stand and a scrubland). The applied multiparametric soil quality index (SQI) was sensitive to changes in forest ecosystems depending on the stocking rates. However, to obtain greater precision in the assessment of the effects of stocking rates, the multiparametric index was recalibrated to create a new index, the Soil Status Index by Livestock (SSIL). The correlation between the quality ranges obtained with both indices in different study areas suggests that the SSIL can be considered a livestock impact reference indicator in Mediterranean forest soils.
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