Submitted to: Book Chapter
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: July 11, 1998
Publication Date: N/A
Technical Abstract: It is well recognized that rangeland environments, especially degraded environments, are relatively infertile. Though arid lands are moisture limited, it is often stated that they are nutrient regulated. A discussion of rangeland soil nutrients relative to landscape degradation should include 1) dynamics of nutrient distributions, 2) soil properties affecting gnutrient fluxes, 3) indicators of soil quality, and 4) nutrient based strategies for remediation. Nutrient distribution is strongly influenced by vegetation structure, and spatial nutrient patterns are closely linked to aspects of primary productivity and species composition. Effects of vegetation on nutrient spatial patterns can persist for decades, even if vegetation is altered by natural or anthropogenic disturbances. Though abiotic processes strongly shape physical features of arid landscapes, biotic activities directly affect soil nutrients. Unfortunately, assessment and monitoring technologies based on soil properties which quantify integrity of nutrient related processes have not been fully developed. Approaches for remediating degraded conditions need to exploit nutrient spatial and temporal heterogeneities. Remediation should be targeted to the most fertile sites, even if these are only relatively small parts of the overall landscape. Understanding nutrient dynamics is a key to triggering autogenic remediation of degraded rangelands.