Journal of Mountain Science

, Volume 10, Issue 3, pp 410–417 | Cite as

Spatial and temporal patterns of soil nitrogen distribution under different land uses in a watershed in the hilly area of purple soil, China

  • Xiao-lin Yang
  • Bo ZhuEmail author
  • Yi-ling Li


Quantification of soil spatial and temporal variability at watershed scale is important in ecological modeling, precision agriculture, and natural resources management. The spatio-temporal variations of soil nitrogen under different land uses in a small watershed (12.10 km2) in the hilly area of purple soil at the upper reaches of the Yangtze River in southwestern China were investigated by using conventional statistics, geostatistics, and a geographical information system in order to provide information for land management and control of environmental issues. A total of 552 soil samples (0 to 15 cm) from 276 sites within the watershed were collected in April and August of 2011, and analyzed for soil total nitrogen (STN) and nitrate nitrogen (NO3-N). We compared spatial variations of STN and NO3-N under different land uses as well as the temporal variations in April (dry season) and August (rainy season). Results showed that STN contents were deeply affected by land-use types; median STN values ranged from 0.94 to 1.27 g·kg−1, and STN contents decreased in the following order: paddy field > forestland > sloping cropland. No significant difference was found for STN contents between April and August under the same land use. However, NO3-N contents were 23.26, 10.58, and 26.19 mg·kg−1 in April, and 1.34, 8.51, and 3.00 mg·kg−1 in August for the paddy field, sloping cropland and forestland, respectively. Nugget ratios for STN indicated moderate spatial dependence in the paddy field and sloping cropland, and a strong spatial dependence in forestland. The processes of nitrogen movement, transformation, absorption of plant were deeply influenced by land use types; as a result, great changes of soil nitrogen levels at spatial and temporal scales were demonstrated in the studied watershed.


Land use Soil nitrogen Spatial variation Temporal variation Watershed scale 


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Copyright information

© Science Press, Institute of Mountain Hazards and Environment, CAS and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Mountain Hazards and EnvironmentChinese Academy of SciencesChengduChina
  2. 2.Henan Polytechnic UniversityJiaozuoChina
  3. 3.Graduate University of the Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina

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