Cracking the Crust: Soil Carbon, Bulk Density, and Grazing in a Valley Oak Savanna

Authors: Derek Emmons*, California State University Long Be
Topics: Field Methods, Environmental Science, Physical Geography
Keywords: California valley oak (Quercus lobata), working landscape, soil carbon, bulk density
Session Type: Poster
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 1:10 PM / 2:50 PM
Room: Lincoln 2, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

In addition to delivering multiple economic and ecosystem services, working landscapes of the Sierra Nevada foothills act as a biodiversity refuge within the California Floristic Province. Local state and non-profit conservation organizations have prioritized restoration of a keystone species, valley oak (Quercus lobata), due to its reduced range and poor reproductive success. The purpose of this research is to produce baseline data on soil conditions adjacent to seasonal stream beds and mature oak groves to inform future restoration targets. Core samples were collected and processed to compare soil carbon and bulk density between 4 sites and to test the following hypotheses. 1) Soil bulk density is highest in open grazed pasture and lowest beneath oak canopy in non-grazed sites. 2) Soil carbon is highest beneath tree canopy in non-grazed areas and lowest in open grazed pasture. 3) Highest frequency of naturally occurring valley oak seedlings correlate with sites of lowest bulk density and highest organic matter. The intended outcome is to improve heterogeneous land-use in ways that balance grazing, soil conservation, and the regeneration of valley oak savanna.

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