, Volume 692, Issue 1, pp 29–40 | Cite as

The influence of flood duration on the surface soil properties and grazing management of karst wetlands (turloughs) in Ireland

  • Sarah Kimberley
  • Owen Naughton
  • Paul Johnston
  • Laurence Gill
  • Steve Waldren


Irish turloughs are hydrologically dynamic karst wetlands that are frequently used as marginal grazing land. We hypothesised that flood duration (FD) is a key driver of the spatial distribution of selected soil properties, and consequently turlough grazing practices. Six soil samples were collected during dry periods from eighteen turloughs between 2006 and 2008. Samples (n = 104) were analysed for pH, organic matter (OM) content, calcium carbonate content (CaCO3), sand/silt/clay content (INORG), total nitrogen (TN) and total phosphorus (TP). Data on flooding duration, flood frequency, grazing regime and vegetation type were collated for each soil sampling point. Multivariate and univariate statistical analyses were used to examine the relationships between soil properties, grazing regime and flooding variables. There was a positive association between CaCO3, FD and sedge-dominated communities, whereas INORG had a positive association with grazing and grassland. There was a strong positive association between TN, TP, OM and soil depth rather than FD, and OM was found to be an efficient predictor of TN. Extended FDs in ephemeral karst wetlands are likely to increase the extent and degree of calcium carbonate accumulation in soils, thus, reducing the grazing potential of land.


Irish turloughs Soil nutrient properties Land use Flood duration Flood frequency 



This research was funded by the National Parks and Wildlife Service, Ireland. The authors thank Mr. Mark Kavanagh and Dr. Norman Allott for laboratory assistance. We also thank the farmers for allowing access to their turlough land. The authors also thank anonymous referees for very useful comments on the first submitted version.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sarah Kimberley
    • 1
  • Owen Naughton
    • 2
  • Paul Johnston
    • 2
  • Laurence Gill
    • 2
  • Steve Waldren
    • 3
  1. 1.Centre for the Environment, School of Natural SciencesUniversity of Dublin, Trinity CollegeDublin 2Ireland
  2. 2.Department of Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering, School of EngineeringUniversity of Dublin, Trinity CollegeDublin 2Ireland
  3. 3.Department of Botany, School of Natural SciencesUniversity of Dublin, Trinity CollegeDublin 2Ireland

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