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Biogeochemistry

, Volume 39, Issue 1, pp 45–64 | Cite as

Oak tree and grazing impacts on soil properties and nutrients in a California oak woodland

  • R.A. DAHLGREN
  • M.J. SINGER
  • X. HUANG
Article

Abstract

There is great interest in understandinghow rangeland management practices affectthe long-term sustainability of California oakwoodland ecosystems through their influence onnutrient cycling. This study examines the effects ofoak trees and low to moderate intensity grazing onsoil properties and nutrient pools in a blue oak (Quercus douglasii H.&A.) woodland in the SierraNevada foothills of northern California. Fourcombinations of vegetation and management wereinvestigated: oak with grazing, oak without grazing,open grasslands with grazing, and open grasslandswithout grazing. Results indicate that oak treescreate islands of enhanced fertility through organicmatter incorporation and nutrient cycling. Comparedto adjacent grasslands, soils beneath the oak canopyhave a lower bulk density, higher pH, and greaterconcentrations of organic carbon, nitrogen, total andavailable P, and exchangeable Ca, Mg, and K,especially in the upper soil horizons (0–35 cm). Incontrast, the light grazing utilized at this site hadminimal effects on soil properties which included anincrease in the bulk density of the surface horizonand an increase in available P throughout the entiresoil profile. While low to moderate intensity grazinghas little effect at this study site, there could bemuch larger impacts under the more intensive grazingpractices utilized on many rangelands. The lack ofoak regeneration and oak tree removal to enhanceforage production may eventually lead to large lossesof nutrients and soil fertility from these ecosystems.Results of this study have important implications forpredicting how management practices may potentiallyaffect oak regeneration, water quality, and ecosystemsustainability.

grazing nutrient cycling oak woodlands organic matter soil properties rangeland 

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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • R.A. DAHLGREN
    • 1
  • M.J. SINGER
    • 1
  • X. HUANG
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Land, Air and Water ResourcesUniversity of CaliforniaDavisUSA

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