Fine-scalespatial distribution of plants and resources on a sandy soil in the Sahel.
Research output: Contribution to journal › Article › Academic › peer-review
We studied fine-scale spatial plant distribution in relation to the spatial distribution of erodible soil particles, organic matter, nutrients and soil water on a sandy to sandy loam soil in the Sahel. We hypothesized that the distribution of annual plants would be highly spatially autocorrelated and that this would be positively linked with the spatial distribution of erodible soil particles, soil organic matter and nutrients. Further, we hypothesized that larger vegetated patches (a relatively high vegetation cover at coarser spatial scale) will be stronger linked with erodible soil particles, organic matter and nutrients than smaller vegetated patches (a relatively low vegetation cover at coarser spatial scale). Generally, for `low cover' and `high cover' plots, spatially confined micro-elevations with a relatively high volume percentage of erodible very fine – medium sand (50–400 μm), were linked with a higher cover of annual plants. The robustness of vegetation patchiness (expressed as the proportion of the total variance accounted for by spatial dependent variance) was significantly higher for the `high cover' plots. For the `low cover' plots, higher vegetation cover was associated with higher elevations, soil moisture, and volume percentage of very fine to medium sand, but lower organic matter, total N and P. For the `high cover' plots, micro-elevations also consisted of a relatively high volume percentage of very fine to medium sand, and this was associated with dryer conditions and higher total N. Additionally, dryer conditions were weakly correlated with higher organic matter. So, micro-elevations were indirectly associated with dryer and more fertile conditions, which was opposite to what we found for the `low cover' plots.