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Sustainability 2018, 10(2), 438; doi:10.3390/su10020438

Modelling Soil Carbon Content in South Patagonia and Evaluating Changes According to Climate, Vegetation, Desertification and Grazing

Instituto Nacional de Tecnología Agropecuaria (INTA); 9400 Río Gallegos, Argentina
Universidad Nacional de la Patagonia Austral (UNPA)-CONICET, 9400 Río Gallegos, Argentina
Laboratorio de Recursos Agroforestales, Centro Austral de Investigaciones Científicas (CADIC CONICET); 9410 Ushuaia, Argentina
School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of New South Wales, Sydney 2052, Australia
Escuela de Agroforestería, Universidad Científica del Sur; Lima 33, Perú
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 29 November 2017 / Revised: 30 January 2018 / Accepted: 1 February 2018 / Published: 8 February 2018
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In Southern Patagonia, a long-term monitoring network has been established to assess bio-indicators as an early warning of environmental changes due to climate change and human activities. Soil organic carbon (SOC) content in rangelands provides a range of important ecosystem services and supports the capacity of the land to sustain plant and animal productivity. The objectives in this study were to model SOC (30 cm) stocks at a regional scale using climatic, topographic and vegetation variables, and to establish a baseline that can be used as an indicator of rangeland condition. For modelling, we used a stepwise multiple regression to identify variables that explain SOC variation at the landscape scale. With the SOC model, we obtained a SOC map for the entire Santa Cruz province, where the variables derived from the multiple linear regression models were integrated into a geographic information system (GIS). SOC stock to 30 cm ranged from 1.38 to 32.63 kg C m−2. The fitted model explained 76.4% of SOC variation using as independent variables isothermality, precipitation seasonality and vegetation cover expressed as a normalized difference vegetation index. The SOC map discriminated in three categories (low, medium, high) determined patterns among environmental and land use variables. For example, SOC decreased with desertification due to erosion processes. The understanding and mapping of SOC in Patagonia contributes as a bridge across main issues such as climate change, desertification and biodiversity conservation. View Full-Text
Keywords: soil carbon; grasslands; livestock; climate; native forest; land use soil carbon; grasslands; livestock; climate; native forest; land use

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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Peri, P.L.; Rosas, Y.M.; Ladd, B.; Toledo, S.; Lasagno, R.G.; Martínez Pastur, G. Modelling Soil Carbon Content in South Patagonia and Evaluating Changes According to Climate, Vegetation, Desertification and Grazing. Sustainability 2018, 10, 438.

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