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Journal of Mountain Science

, Volume 11, Issue 5, pp 1123–1137 | Cite as

Soil and vegetation seasonal changes in the grazing Andean Mountain grasslands

  • María Ángeles MuñozEmail author
  • Ángel Faz
Article

Abstract

Andean grasslands ecosystems are fragile environments with rigorous climatologic conditions and low and variable food for the grazing. The Apolobamba area is located in the Bolivian Andean Mountains. Its high grasslands provide a natural habitat for wild and domestic camelids such as vicuna (Vicugna vicugna) and alpaca (Lama pacos). The botanical diversity plays an essential role in maintaining vital ecosystem functions. The objectives of this research were to determine the seasonal changes in soil properties, to study the vegetation changes during the wet and dry seasons and the influence of soil properties and camelid densities on the vegetation in the Apolobamba grasslands. Four zones with different vicuna populations were selected to be studied. The following soil parameters were determined: total organic carbon, total nitrogen, available phosphorous, cation exchange capacity, exchangeable cations, pH and texture. The vegetation season changes were studied through botanical identification, above-ground biomass, plant cover and species richness. Results showed that some soil properties such as C/N ratio, CEC, silt and clay percentages kept stable against the seasonal changes. Generally, soil nutrients were relatively higher during the dry season in the surface and subsurface. The results did not point out the predominant vegetation growth during the wet season. The seasonal vegetation growth depended on each species. The good soil fertility corresponded to the highest plant cover. Soil fertility presented no influence on the above-ground biomass of the collected species. The negative influence of camelid grazing on soil properties could not be assessed. However, overgrazing could affect some plant species. Therefore, protection is needed in order to preserve the biodiversity in the Andean mountain grasslands.

Keywords

Biodiversity Camelid grazing High grasslands Plant communities Soil properties 

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Copyright information

© Science Press, Institute of Mountain Hazards and Environment, CAS and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Sustainable Use, Management and Reclamation Soil and Water Research Group, Agriculture and Science Technology DepartmentTechnical University of CartagenaCartagenaSpain

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