Litter decay in rangeland sites with varying history of human disturbance: a study with Hazargangi Chiltan mountain
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Imran Khan, Shamim Gul, Sarfraz Ahmad, Gul Bano Rehman, Agha Waqar Yunus, Iram Gul, Imran Ali, Ali Akbar, Muhammad Islam. (11/4/2020). Litter decay in rangeland sites with varying history of human disturbance: a study with Hazargangi Chiltan mountain. Journal of Mountain Science, 17 (4), pp. 898-906.
Hazarganji Chiltan National Park in Balochistan, Pakistan was established in 1980 and the protected area was further extended in 1998. Large area of this mountain is still open for unmanaged human disturbances such as collection of wood for fuel purpose and livestock grazing. Removal of vegetation of rangelands has a significant negative impact on soil organic matter (SOM). This research evaluates litter decomposition in three sites of Hazarganji Chiltan mountain with varying history of human disturbances (unprotected site, young protected site and old protected site). Twigs of Pistacia khinjuk with approximately equal weight and length were placed in litter bags of mesh size 2 mm and were buried in 0-5 cm depth in three sites in January. Half of the twigs of each site received rain simulation in April, August, October, November and January while the other half of the twigs were subjected under natural conditions for 15 months. Twigs from each plot of each treatment of each site were collected from soil after every rain simulation in the previous month of experiment and were processed for weight loss assessment. Results showed that weight loss of twigs by decomposition was significantly higher in the soil of unprotected site as compared to other two sites and there was no difference between rain simulation and control treatments except that loss of weight of twigs of unprotected site was higher under control than rain simulation condition. To confirm that SOM was the major controlling factor for the decomposition of litter decay, soils of each site were collected and burned to remove SOM; thereafter, burned soil samples were mixed with homogenous powder of oven-dried native plants, incubated for 6 months and were provided with dissolved organic matter of the soils of each site. Results showed that there was no difference in the decomposition of litter between soils under controlled laboratory condition, which confirmed that SOM was a major controlling factor for the litter decay in soil under field conditions. The pyrosequencing analysis of the DNA of soils collected from three sites revealed the presence of bacterial species Thermovum composti.
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