Journal of Mountain Science

, Volume 14, Issue 9, pp 1801–1813 | Cite as

Modeling of forest soil and litter health using disturbance and landscape heterogeneity indicators in northern Iran

  • Malihe Erfani
  • Abdolrassoul Salmanmahiny
  • Afshin Danehkar
  • Vahid Etemad
Article

Abstract

This paper focuses on the indicators of soil and litter health, disturbance, and landscape heterogeneity as a tool for prediction of ecosystem sustainability in the northern forests of Iran. The study area was divided into spatial homogenous sites using slope, aspect, and soil humidity classes. Then a range of sites along the disturbance gradient was selected for sampling. Chemical and physical indicators of soil and litter health were measured at random points within these sites. Structural equation modeling (SEM) was applied to link six constructs of landscape heterogeneity, three constructs of disturbance (harvest, livestock, and human accessibility), and soil and litter health. The results showed that with decreasing accessibility, the total N and organic matter content of soil increased and effective bulk density decreased. Harvesting activities increased soil organic matter. Therefore, it is concluded that disturbances through harvesting and accessibility inversely affect the soil health. Unexpectedly, it was found that the litter total C and C:N ratio improved with an increase in the harvest and accessibility disturbances, whereas litter bulk density decreased. Investigation of tree composition revealed that in the climax communities, which are normally affected more by harvesting activities, some species like Fagus orientalis Lipsky with low decomposition rate are dominant. The research results showed that changes in disturbance intensity are reflected in litter and soil indicators, whereas the SEM indicated that landscape heterogeneity has a moderator effect on the disturbance to both litter and soil paths.

Keywords

Soil health Forest litter Structural equation modeling (SEM) Partial least squares (PLS) Ecosystem approach Northern Iran 

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Copyright information

© Science Press, Institute of Mountain Hazards and Environment, CAS and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Environmental sciences, Faculty of Natural ResourcesUniversity of ZabolZabolIran
  2. 2.Department of Environmental SciencesGorgan University of Agricultural Sci. & Natural ResourcesGorganIran
  3. 3.Department of Environmental Sciences, Faculty of Natural ResourcesUniversity of TehranTehranIran
  4. 4.Department of forestry and forest economic, Faculty of Natural ResourcesUniversity of TehranTehranIran

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