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Journal of Environmental Quality Abstract - Organic Compounds in the Environment

Use of Ecosystem Information to Improve Soil Organic Carbon Mapping of a Mediterranean Island


This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 36 No. 1, p. 262-271
    Received: July 19, 2005

    * Corresponding author(s): dacqui@ise.cnr.it
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  1. Luigi P. D'Acqui *a,
  2. Carolina A. Santia and
  3. Fabio Masellib
  1. a Istituto per lo Studio degli Ecosistemi CNR-ISE, Via Madonna del Piano, 50019, Sesto Fiorentino, Italy
    b Istituto di Biometereologia IBIMET-CNR, Via Madonna del Piano, 50019, Sesto Fiorentino, Italy


Detailed maps of soil C are needed to guide sustainable soil uses and management decisions. The quality of soil C maps of Italian Mediterranean areas may be improved and the sampling density reduced using secondary data related to the nature of the ecosystem. The current study was conducted to determine: (i) the improvements obtainable in mapping soil C over a Mediterranean island by using ecosystem features and (ii) the effect of different sampling densities on the map accuracy. This work relied on field sampling (n = 164) of soil properties measured over the island of Pianosa (Central Italy). Statistical analysis assessing the relationship between soil properties and ecosystem features revealed that the conceptual model of ecosystems defined on the basis of environmental features such as vegetation cover, land use, and soil type was mainly related to the variation of soil organic carbon (OC) content and to the type of Mediterranean environment. The distribution of ecosystems was used to improve the accuracy of soil OC maps obtainable by a simple interpolation approach (ordinary kriging). Substantial improvement was obtained by: (i) stratification into ecosystem types and (ii) applying locally calibrated regressions to satellite imagery that introduced both inter-ecosystem and intra-ecosystem information linked to vegetation features. This study showed that interpolation methods using information on ecosystem distribution can produce accurate maps of soil OC in Mediterranean environments, mostly because of the linkage between soil OC and vegetation types, which are spatially fragmented and heterogeneous.

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