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Soil changes associated with land use in volcanic soils of Patagonia developed on dynamic landscapes

La Manna, Ludmila, Gaspar, Leticia, Rostagno, César Mario, Quijano, Laura, Navas, Ana
Catena 2018 v.166 pp. 229-239
Maytenus boaria, Pinus radiata, ecotones, forest soils, forests, land cover, land use, landscapes, magnetic properties, magnetism, minerals, organic matter, pH, rangelands, silt fraction, sodium fluoride, soil degradation, soil formation, soil sampling, steppes, texture, topographic slope, volcanic soils, watersheds, Andes region, Argentina
This paper aimed to identify indicators of soil degradation in volcanic soils developed in the ecotone between the Andean Forests and the Patagonian steppe. The study area is located in the Percy River Basin, Argentine, on alluvial fans with volcanic soils. Sampling was conducted in two adjacent hillslopes where native forest was replaced by a rangeland with grass-shrub vegetation and a 32-years old Pinus radiata plantation. Sectioned and bulk soil samples were collected along three transects in each land cover up to 40 cm depth. Two forest patches of Maytenus boaria were selected as controls. Physical, chemical and magnetic properties were analyzed. Native forest soils were rich in silt fraction, organic matter and non-crystalline minerals, and presented the lowest values of magnetic susceptibility. Rangeland and plantation soils differed from forest soils in these properties. Soil changes were mainly associated to changes in mineralogy resulting from soil desiccation and to the selective removal of fine particles by erosion, together with differences in the effects of recent volcanic events on the soils. Changes in soils associated with land use affected key properties related to pedogenetic processes. Magnetic susceptibility, organic matter content, texture, and pH NaF were key for understanding soil degradation processes in this dynamic environment.