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Forests 2016, 7(4), 91; doi:10.3390/f7040091

Recovery of Vegetation Cover and Soil after the Removal of Sheep in Socorro Island, Mexico

1
Centro de Investigaciones Biológicas del Noroeste, S.C. Av. Instituto Politécnico Nacional 195, La Paz, B.C.S. 23096, Mexico
2
Grupo de Ecología y Conservación de Islas, A.C. Moctezuma 836, Ensenada, B.C., 22800, Mexico
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Sadanandan Nambiar and Timothy A. Martin
Received: 4 February 2016 / Revised: 20 April 2016 / Accepted: 20 April 2016 / Published: 22 April 2016
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Abstract

For over 140 years, the habitat of Socorro Island in the Mexican Pacific has been altered by the presence of exotic sheep. Overgrazing, jointly with tropical storms, has caused soil erosion, and more than 2000 hectares of native vegetation have been lost. Sheep eradication was conducted from 2009 to 2012. Since then, the vegetation has begun to recover passively, modifying soil properties. The objective of our study was to verify that this island was resilient enough to be recovered and in a relatively short time scale. To confirm our hypothesis, we analyzed changes in the physical-chemical properties of the soil and vegetation cover, the last one in different times and habitats after sheep eradication. The change in vegetation cover was estimated by comparing the normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) between 2008 and 2013. In sites altered by feral sheep, soil compaction was assessed, and soil samples were taken, analyzing pH, electrical conductivity, organic carbon, total nitrogen, phosphorus, calcium, and magnesium. After a year of total sheep eradication, clear indications in the recovery of vegetation cover and improvement of soil quality parameters were observed and confirmed, specifically compaction and nitrogen, organic carbon, phosphorus, and calcium. The results seem to support our hypothesis. View Full-Text
Keywords: feral sheep; soil erosion; soil recovery; Socorro Island feral sheep; soil erosion; soil recovery; Socorro Island
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Ortíz-Alcaraz, A.; Maya-Delgado, Y.; Cortés-Calva, P.; Aguirre-Muñoz, A.; Rojas-Mayoral, E.; Cordoba-Matson, M.V.; Ortega-Rubio, A. Recovery of Vegetation Cover and Soil after the Removal of Sheep in Socorro Island, Mexico. Forests 2016, 7, 91.

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