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Environ Monit Assess. 2008 May;140(1-3):249-65. Epub 2007 Sep 5.

Assessing the effects of land use changes on soil sensitivity to erosion in a highland ecosystem of semi-arid Turkey.

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  • 1Department of Soil Science, Faculty of Agriculture, Ankara University, Diskapi, Ankara 06110, Turkey.


There has been increasing concern in highlands of semiarid Turkey that conversion of these systems results in excessive soil erosion, ecosystem degradation, and loss of sustainable resources. An increasing rate of land use/cover changes especially in semiarid mountainous areas has resulted in important effects on physical and ecological processes, causing many regions to undergo accelerated environmental degradation in terms of soil erosion, mass movement and reservoir sedimentation. This paper, therefore, explores the impact of land use changes on land degradation in a linkage to the soil erodibility, RUSLE-K, in Cankiri-Indagi Mountain Pass, Turkey. The characterization of soil erodibility in this ecosystem is important from the standpoint of conserving fragile ecosystems and planning management practices. Five adjacent land uses (cropland, grassland, woodland, plantation, and recreational land) were selected for this research. Analysis of variance showed that soil properties and RUSLE-K statistically changed with land use changes and soils of the recreational land and cropland were more sensitive to water erosion than those of the woodland, grassland, and plantation. This was mainly due to the significant decreases in soil organic matter (SOM) and hydraulic conductivity (HC) in those lands. Additionally, soil samples randomly collected from the depths of 0-10 cm (D1) and 10-20 cm (D2) with irregular intervals in an area of 1,200 by 4,200 m sufficiently characterized not only the spatial distribution of soil organic matter (SOM), hydraulic conductivity (HC), clay (C), silt (Si), sand (S) and silt plus very fine sand (Si + VFS) but also the spatial distribution of RUSLE-K as an algebraically estimate of these parameters together with field assessment of soil structure to assess the dynamic relationships between soil properties and land use types. In this study, in order to perform the spatial analyses, the mean sampling intervals were 43, 50, 64, 78, 85 m for woodland, plantation, grassland, recreation, and cropland with the sample numbers of 56, 79, 72, 13, and 69, respectively, resulting in an average interval of 64 m for whole study area. Although nugget effect and nugget effect-sill ratio gave an idea about the sampling design adequacy, the better results are undoubtedly likely by both equi-probable spatial sampling and random sampling representative of all land uses.

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