Ecogeomorphic Feedbacks in Semiarid Rangelands : A Review

Stavi, I
Lavee, H
Ungar, E D
Sarah, P
Publication Year: 
Abstract The ecogeomorphic processes occurring on semiarid rangelands are reviewed, with emphasis on the source-sink relations and positive feedback loops that existed between shrub patches and intershrub areas, and the way livestock presence affected these interactions. Compared with intershrub areas, the shrub patches had a higher soil porosity, infiltration capacity, water-holding capacity, hydraulic conductivity, structural stability, and organic matter content, and lower bulk density. These differences derived from a host of processes whose intensity was less in the shrub patches, including raindrop impact, mechanical crust formation, overland water flow, soil erosion, evaporative moisture loss, and flock trampling. There was also greater shading of the soil surface; soil and litter deposition; water accumulation; microbial, fungal, and mesofaunal activities in the shrub patches. The overland flow of water carried soil and litter from the intershrub areas to the shrub patches and resulted in microtopographic modifications that tended to strengthen these source-sink relations. Grazing had an impact on these processes, not only at the shrub-intershrub scale but also within the intershrub areas, through the creation of highly compacted trampling routes. The combined role of the above ecogeomorphic processes was to maintain the rangeland's functionality. Without these inter-relationships, water loss, soil erosion, and nutrient depletion would occur at the hillside scale, causing degradation of the landscape.
Name of Journal: 
Resource Type: 
Document Type: 
Journal Issue/Article
Grassland Society of Southern Africa

The Grassland Society of Southern Africa (GSSA) is involved and concerned with the science and practice of range and pasture management. This broad field involves primarily the use and conservation of natural resources. It encompasses applied fields such as livestock production, wildlife management, nature conservation, water catchment management and range and mine-dump rehabilitation. The disciplines include, amongst others, ecology, botany zoology, range and pasture science, animal science, soil science and genetics. This collection includes journal articles from the African Journal of Range and Forage Science as well as related articles and reports from throughout the Southern African region.