Soil Property Variations in Relation to Plant Community and Altitudinal Zone in the Rangelands of Epirus, Greece

Ch. ROUKOS1, C. PAPANIKOLAOU1, I. MOUNTOUSIS1, S. KANDRELIS2 and F. CHATZITHEODORIDIS3
1 Department of Animal Production, Faculty of Agriculture, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, 54136 Thessaloniki, Greece
2 Department of Animal Production, Faculty of Agriculture, T. E. I. of Epirus, 4100 Arta, Greece
3 Department of Agricultural Products Marketing and Quality Control, Faculty of Agriculture, T. E. I. of Western Macedonia, Terma Kontopoulou, 53100 Florina, Greece

Abstract

ROUKOS, CH., C. PAPANIKOLAOU, I. MOUNTOUSIS, S. KANDRELIS and F. CHATZITHEODORIDIS, 2011. Soil property variations in relation to plant community and altitudinal zone in the rangelands of Epirus, Greece. Bulg. J. Agric. Sci., 17: 806-815

Epirus is a mountainous area in northwest Greece. Most of the rangelands extended there are overgrazed and eroded. This study was performed in order to assess soil property variations along with the dominant plant communities, the altitudinal zone and their interaction in the Preveza Prefecture grasslands in Epirus. Forty-eight field sites, with a west-southwest aspect divided into three different altitudinal zones, representing the typical rangeland conditions of this area were selected. These rangelands, based on the dominant species, were grouped into six plant communities (Bromus - Hordeum, Festuca - Lotus, Asphodelus, Pteridium, Phlomis, and Quercus). Therefore, four representative soil samples from the surface layer were collected from each plant community area for the purposes of the experiment. Soil texture, organic matter, electrical conductivity, pH, active Ca, NO3-N, available P, exchangeable K, Cd, and Pb were analyzed and estimated. Soil texture showed significant differences among altitudinal zones, while soil organic matter, electrical conductivity, pH, active Ca, NO3-N, available P, exchangeable K, Cd, and Pb presented significant differences among plant communities. The results of this study showed that the soil’s physical and chemical properties are significantly affected by the altitudinal zone, although plant communities significantly affected mostly the soil’s chemical properties, indicating that each plant community created its own soil micro environmental conditions.

Key words: soil properties, altitudinal zone, plant community

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