Spatial Variability of Soil Water and Soil Organic Carbon Contents Under Different Degradation Degrees of Alpine Meadow Soil over the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau

Thursday, 18 December 2014
Chen Zeng and Fan Zhang, ITP Institute of Tibetan Plateau Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China
Alpine meadow is one of widespread vegetation types of the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau. However, alpine meadow ecosystem is undergoing degradation in recent years. The degradation of alpine meadow can changes soil physical and chemical properties as well as it’s spatial variability. However, little research has been done that address the spatial patterns of soil properties under different degradation degrees of alpine meadow of the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau although these changes were important to water and heat study and modelling of land surface. 296 soil surface (0-10 cm) samples were collected using grid sampling design from three different degraded alpine meadow regions (1 km2). Then soil water content (SWC) and organic carbon content (OCC) were measured. Classical statistical and geostatistical methods were employed to study the spatial heterogeneities of SWC and OCC under different degradation degrees (Non-degraded ND, moderately degraded MD, extremely degraded ED) of alpine meadow. Results show that both SWC and OCC of alpine meadow were normally distributed with the exception of SWC under ED. On average, both SWC and OCC of alpine meadow decreased in the order that ND > MD > ED. For nugget ratios, SWC and OCC of alpine meadow showed increasing spatial dependence tendency from ND to ED. For the range of spatial variation, both SWC and OCC of alpine meadow showed increasing tendency in distance with the increasing degree of degradation. In all, the degradation of alpine meadow has significant impact on spatial heterogeneities of SWC and OCC of alpine meadow. With increasing of alpine meadow degradation, soil water condition and nutrient condition become worse, and their distributions in spatial become unevenly.