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Soil properties along a gradient from hillslopes to the savanna plains in the Lambwe Valley, Kenya

Title data

Arnhold, Sebastian ; Otieno, Dennis O. ; Onyango, John C. ; Koellner, Thomas ; Huwe, Bernd ; Tenhunen, John:
Soil properties along a gradient from hillslopes to the savanna plains in the Lambwe Valley, Kenya.
Universität Bayreuth / Fakultät für Biologie, Chemie und Geowissenschaften
In: Soil & Tillage Research. Vol. 154 (2015) . - pp. 75-83.
ISSN 0167-1987
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.still.2015.06.021

Abstract in another language

Changes in land use and management strongly affect the physical and chemical properties of soils and their ecological functions. Especially, regions in East Africa have experienced dramatic land use changes in the past, but the spatial variability of soil properties and the impacts associated with those changes have been rarely documented. We investigated changes of major soil physical and chemical parameters along a gradient from hillslopes covered with forest and pasture, to the plains dominated by agriculture and savanna grassland in the upper Lambwe Valley in western Kenya. Additionally, we analyzed soil properties within a fenced area on the hillslopes in order to identify potential soil recovery effects after the exclusion of livestock grazing. We showed that topography, geological background, and soil formation processes were the primary controlling factors for variations in soil depth, the amount of rock fragments, and the textural composition of the soils. Agricultural cultivation strongly increased bulk densities and reduced hydraulic conductivity and plant available water capacity due to tillage-induced subsoil compaction. Intensive livestock grazing also increased bulk densities and negatively affected hydraulic properties although less strongly pronounced than the impacts of agricultural cultivation. Carbon and nitrogen levels were significantly lower in farmed and pasture soils compared to the forested hillslopes. For the exclusion of grazing, however, we did not observe significant differences in soil physical and chemical parameters as fencing has been maintained for few years only and natural soil recovery is a long-term process. This study provides quantitative information on the spatial distribution and variability of soil properties associated with different land use and management systems in the upper Lambwe Valley and will be of use for future research on ecosystem processes in this region. However, additional soil survey campaigns will be required to create a complete picture of the soil landscape for the entire area of the Lambwe Valley.

Further data

Item Type: Article in a journal
Refereed: Yes
Additional notes: BAYCEER119342
BAYCEER129960
Keywords: Land use change; Agriculture; Tillage; Livestock grazing; Soil structure; Soil nutrients
Institutions of the University: Faculties
Faculties > Faculty of Biology, Chemistry and Earth Sciences
Faculties > Faculty of Biology, Chemistry and Earth Sciences > Department of Biology > Chair Plant Ecology
Faculties > Faculty of Biology, Chemistry and Earth Sciences > Department of Earth Sciences
Faculties > Faculty of Biology, Chemistry and Earth Sciences > Department of Earth Sciences > Chair Soil Physics
Faculties > Faculty of Biology, Chemistry and Earth Sciences > Department of Earth Sciences > Professorship Ecological Services
Faculties > Faculty of Biology, Chemistry and Earth Sciences > Department of Earth Sciences > Professorship Ecological Services > Professorship Ecological Services - Univ.-Prof. Dr. Thomas Köllner
Research Institutions
Research Institutions > Research Centres
Research Institutions > Research Centres > Bayreuth Center of Ecology and Environmental Research- BayCEER
Faculties > Faculty of Biology, Chemistry and Earth Sciences > Department of Biology
Result of work at the UBT: Yes
DDC Subjects: 500 Science
500 Science > 550 Earth sciences, geology
Date Deposited: 22 Jul 2015 07:08
Last Modified: 27 Jul 2016 11:40
URI: https://eref.uni-bayreuth.de/id/eprint/16854