land use

Twelve testable hypotheses on the Geobiology of weathering

Brantley S.L., Megonigal J.P., Scatena F.N. et al 2010. Twelve testable hypotheses on the Geobiology of weathering. Geobiology. DOI: 10.1111/j.1472-4669.2010.00264.x

Critical Zone (CZ) research investigates the chemical, physical, and biological processes that modulate the Earth’s surface. Here, we advance 12 hypotheses that must be tested to improve our understanding of the CZ: (1) Solar-to-chemical conversion of energy by plants regulates flows of carbon, water, and nutrients through plant-microbe soil networks, thereby controlling the location and extent of biological weathering. (2) Biological stoichiometry drives changes in mineral stoichiometry and distribution through weathering. (3) On landscapes experiencing little erosion, biology drives weathering during initial succession, whereas weathering drives biology over the long term.(4) In eroding landscapes, weathering-front advance at depth is coupled to surface denudation via biotic processes.(5) Biology shapes the topography of the Critical Zone.(6) The impact of climate forcing on denudation rates in natural systems can be predicted from models incorporating biogeochemical reaction rates and geomorphological transport laws.(7) Rising global temperatures will increase carbon losses from the Critical Zone.(8) Rising atmospheric PCO2 will increase rates and extents of mineral weathering in soils.(9) Riverine solute fluxes will respond to changes in climate primarily due to changes in water fluxes and secondarily through changes in biologically mediated weathering.(10) Land use change will impact Critical Zone processes and exports more than climate change. (11) In many severely altered settings, restoration of hydrological processes is possible in decades or less, whereas restoration of biodiversity and biogeochemical processes requires longer timescales.(12) Biogeochemical properties impart thresholds or tipping points beyond which rapid and irreversible losses of ecosystem health, function, and services can occur.

Climate is affected more by maritime than by continental land use change: A multiple scale analysis

Van der Molen, M. K., Dolman, A. J.,Waterloo, M. J. and Bruijnzeel, L.
A. 2006. Climate is affected more by maritime than by continental land
use change: A multiple scale analysis. Global and Planetary Change,
54, 128–149.

Tropical deforestation appears to have larger impacts on local, regional and global climate when it occurs under maritime conditions rather then under continental conditions. At the local scale, we compare results from a field experiment in Puerto Rico with other long-term studies of the changes in surface fluxes after deforestation. Changes in surface fluxes are larger in maritime situations because a number of feedback mechanisms appears less relevant (e.g. the dependency of soil moisture on recycling of water and the larger reduction of net radiation in the wet season due to clouds in continental regions). Pastures may evaporate at similarly high rates as forests when soil moisture is sufficient, which has a strong reducing effect on the sensible heat flux after deforestation. At the regional scale (∼102 km2), model simulations show that the meso-scale sea breeze circulation under maritime conditions is more effective in transporting heat and moisture to the upper troposphere than convection is in the continental case. Thus islands function as triggers of convection, whereas the intensity of the sea breeze-trigger is sensitive to land use change. At the global scale, using satellite-derived latent heating rates of the upper troposphere, it is shown that 40% of the latent heating associated with deep convection takes place in the Maritime Continent (Indonesia and surroundings) and may be produced mostly by small islands. Continents contribute only 20% of the latent heating of the upper troposphere. Thus, sea breeze circulations exert significant influence on the Hadley cell circulation. These results imply that, from a climate perspective, further deforestation studies would do well to focus more on maritime conditions.

Land Transitions in the Tropics: Going Beyond the Case Studies

Uriarte, M., Schneider, L. and Rudel, T. K. (2010), Land Transitions in the Tropics: Going Beyond the Case Studies. Biotropica, 42: 1–2. doi: 10.1111/j.1744-7429.2009.00580.x

Estimates of the percent of Earth’s land surface that has either been transformed or degraded by human activity range between 39 and 50 percent, with agriculture accounting for the vast majority of these changes. Although much of the focus of research on land use and cover change in the tropics has been on deforestation, ongoing socioeconomic changes both locally and globally have made land transitions in the tropics extremely fluid. In addition, feedbacks between land cover change and human behavior constrain the extent and trajectories of land transitions. The sustainability of land use systems in the tropics depends on an understanding of coupled human–natural systems that can lead to general frameworks for management and prediction. The unprecedented availability of land use/cover data together with ecological data collected at large spatial scales offer exciting opportunities for advancing our understanding of socioecological systems. We rely on six studies of land transitions in the tropics to illustrate some promising approaches and pose critical questions to guide this body of research.

Urban heat island effect analysis for San Juan, Puerto Rico

Velazquez-Lozada, A., Gonzalez, J. E., and Winter, A., 2006. Urban heat island effect analysis in San Juan,
Puerto Rico. Atmospheric Environment 40, 1731-1741.

A climatological analysis of the differences of air temperature between rural and urban areas (dT(U–R)) corroborates the existence of an urban heat island (UHI) in the tropical coastal city of San Juan, Puerto Rico that has been increasing at a rate of 0.06 1Cyear1 for the last 40 years with predicted differences as high as 8 1C for the year 2050. The Regional Atmospheric Model System (RAMS) was used to validate the presence of this UHI and to simulate and compare three different land use scenarios consisting of potential natural vegetation, present, and projected future to quantify the impact of the urban development in the regional climate of Puerto Rico. RAMS simulated the UHI conditions at the lower and upper atmosphere revealing significant changes in sensible heat fluxes and sinks, and an increasing low turbulent-kineticenergy zone (LTKEZ) over the urbanized area of San Juan.

Sediment production from unpaved roads in a sub-tropical dry setting — Southwestern Puerto Rico

Carlos E. Ramos Scharrón
Sediment production from unpaved roads in a sub-tropical dry setting — Southwestern Puerto Rico
Volume 82, Issue 3, 15 September 2010, Pages 146-158

The threat imposed by increased sediment loading rates ranks among the most important stressors affecting coral reef ecosystems worldwide. This study represents an effort to quantify the effects of unpaved roads on erosion rates in a dry sub-tropical area of Puerto Rico and is intended to aid in developing scientifically-based erosion mitigation strategies. Hence, the specific objectives of this study were to: (1) measure sediment production rates from unpaved roads; (2) evaluate the effect of precipitation, rainfall erosivity, slope, plot length, and vegetation cover on sediment production rates; and (3) compare measured sediment production rates to published surface erosion data from roaded and natural sites in the Eastern Caribbean. Sediment production from nine abandoned road segments with varying slopes and plot lengths were measured with sediment traps in southwestern Puerto Rico from August 2003 to September 2005. The overall average sediment production rate was 0.84 Mg ha−1 yr−1, and the range of observed values was 15–50 times higher than locally-measured natural erosion rates. Only four of the nine study sites had a statistically significant correlation between sediment production and total rainfall and this is attributed to progressive changes in some of the conditions controlling erosion rates. Sediment production rates were dependent on slope raised to the 1.6th power, as well as to the product of plot length times slope1.6. Average erosion rates were inversely but poorly related to vegetation cover. An observed decline in sediment production rates was observed for all nine study segments, and this amounted to a statistically significant difference between observations made during the early stages of monitoring (Period 1: August 2003–April 2004) relative to those during the latter parts of the study (Period 2: May 2004– September 2005). Annual erosion rates during Period 1 amounted to 0.18 to 4.0 Mg ha−1 yr−1 for road segments with 1% and 22% slopes, respectively; rates during Period 2 were between 0.024 and 0.52Mg ha−1 yr−1, or only 13% of those during Period 1. Differences in sediment production rates between the two periods are attributed to more intense rainfall during Period 1 and to a notably higher vegetation cover during Period 2. Rainfall appears to play a paradoxical role in controlling surface erosion rates on abandoned road surfaces in a sub-tropical dry region.While ample rainfall is needed to generate erosion by rainsplash and overland flow, once rainfall satisfies soil moisture requirements for sustaining vegetation colonization it may also contribute to declining sediment production rates. Therefore, any model that attempts to properly address the temporal variation in erosion rates occurring on abandoned roads in a climatic setting where moisture availability is a limiting factor must not only follow the more traditional surface armoring-based approach but must also integrate the effects of re-vegetation. Such types of modelswill eventually become useful tools to properly assess the effects of past, current, and future land use practices on erosion rates, and to improve mitigation and land development strategies to lessen the impact on vital marine habitats

The Forest Types and Ages Cleared for Land Development in Puerto Rico

Kennaway, Todd; Helmer, E. H. 2007. The Forest Types and Ages Cleared for Land Development in Puerto Rico.. GIScience & Remote Sensing, 44, No. 4, :356-382.

On the Caribbean island of Puerto Rico, forest, urban/built-up, and pasture lands have replaced most formerly cultivated lands. The extent and age distribution of each forest type that undergoes land development, however, is unknown. This study assembles a time series of four land cover maps for Puerto Rico. The time series includes two digitized paper maps of land cover in 1951 and 1978 that are based on photo interpretation. The other two maps are of forest type and land cover and are based on decision tree classification of Landsat image mosaics dated 1991 and 2000. With the map time series we quantify land-cover changes from 1951 to 2000; map forest age classes in 1991 and 2000; and quantify the forest that undergoes land development (urban development or surface mining) from 1991 to 2000 by forest type and age. This step relies on intersecting a map of land development from 1991 to 2000 (from the same satellite imagery) with the forest age and type maps. Land cover changes from 1991 to 2000 that continue prior trends include urban expansion and transition of sugar cane, pineapple, and other lowland agriculture to pasture. Forest recovery continues, but it has slowed. Emergent and forested wetland area increased between 1977 and 2000. Sun coffee cultivation appears to have increased slightly. Most of the forests cleared for land development, 55%, were young (1–13 yr). Only 13% of the developed forest was older (41–55+ yr). However, older forest on rugged karst lands that long ago reforested is vulnerable to land development if it is close to an urban center and unprotected.

Diversity and composition of tropical secondary forests recovering from large-scale clearing: results from the 1990 inventory in Puerto Rico

Chinea, J. Danilo; Helmer, Eileen H. 2003. Diversity and composition of tropical secondary forests recovering from large-scale clearing: results from the 1990 inventory in Puerto Rico.. Forest Ecology and Management 180 :227-240.

The extensive recovery from agricultural clearing of Puerto Rican forests over the past half-century provides a good opportunity to study tropical forest recovery on a landscape scale. Using ordination and regression techniques, we analyzed forest inventory data from across Puerto Rico’s moist and wet secondary forests to evaluate their species composition and whether the landscape structure of older forest affected tree species composition of recovering forests at this scale. Our results support conclusions from studies conducted in Puerto Rico at smaller scales and temperate forests at larger scales that timing of abandonment and land use history are of overwhelming importance in determining the species composition of recovering forests. Forest recovery is recent enough in Puerto Rico that previous land use is clearly evident in current species composition, and creates new forest communities. As demonstrated in other work, physical factors such as elevation and substrate co-vary with land use history, so that the species composition of the forest landscape results from the interplay between biophysical and socioeconomic forces over time. Our results also indicate that increasing the distance to the largest forest patches occurring in the landscape 12 years previous had a small negative impact on species richness but not species diversity or community composition.We conclude that land use history has as much influence in species composition as biophysical variables and that, at the scale of this study, there is no large influence of forest landscape structure on species diversity or composition.

Hydrologic Modeling of Land Processes in Puerto Rico Using Remotely Sensed Data

Hydrologic Modeling of Land Processes in Puerto Rico Using Remotely Sensed Data
Cruise, J. F.; Miller, R. L.
Journal of the American Water Resources Association, vol. 30, Issue 3, p.419-428

An integrated, multi-disciplinary effort to model land processes affecting Mayaguez Bay in western Puerto Rico is described. A modeling strategy was developed to take advantage of remotely sensed data. The spatial, interannual, and seasonal variability of sediment discharges to the bay were also evaluated. Classified images of remotely sensed data revealed the spatial distribution and quantities of land use classes in the region and aided in the discretization of the watershed into homogeneous regions. These regions were modeled using a geomorphic modeling technique based upon spatially averaged parameters. Simulation results from the modeling effort compared favorably with observations at two locations within the watershed. Results showed that runoff and sediment loads from the area exhibit a marked seasonal trend and that deforested areas located in the foothill regions of the watershed contribute a disproportionate share of the sediment load to the bay. In years when rainfall distributions are uniformly distributed over the area, the sediment yields may be up to 100 percent higher than years when the rainfall is concentrated in the heavily forested mountainous regions.

Urban influences on the nitrogen cycle in Puerto Rico

Ortiz-Zayas, J. R., E. Cuevas, O. L. Mayol-Bracero, L.
Donoso, I. Trebs, D. Figueroa-Nieves, and W. H. Mcdowell.
2006. Urban influences on the nitrogen cycle in Puerto Rico.
Biogeochemistry 79:109–133.

Anthropogenic actions are altering fluxes of nitrogen (N) in the biosphere at unprecedented rates. Efforts to study these impacts have concentrated in the Northern hemisphere, where experimental data are available. In tropical developing countries, however, experimental studies are lacking. This paper summarizes available data and assesses the impacts of human activities on N fluxes in Puerto Rico, a densely populated Caribbean island that has experienced drastic landscape transformations over the last century associated with rapid socioeconomic changes. N yield calculations conducted in several watersheds of different anthropogenic influences revealed that disturbed watersheds export more N per unit area than undisturbed forested watersheds. Export of N from urban watersheds ranged from 4.8 kg ha)1 year)1 in the Rı´o Bayamo´ n watershed to 32.9 kg ha)1 year)1 in the highly urbanized Rı´o Piedras watershed and 33.3 kg ha)1 year)1 in the rural-agricultural Rı´o Grande de An˜ asco watershed. Along with land use, mean annual runoff explained most of the variance in fluvial N yield. Wastewater generated in the San Juan Metropolitan Area receives primary treatment before it is discharged into the Atlantic Ocean. These discharges are N-rich and export large amounts of N to the ocean at a rate of about 140 kg ha)1 year)1. Data on wet deposition of inorganic N (NHþ4 þ NO 3 ) suggest that rates of atmospheric N deposition are increasing in the pristine forests of Puerto Rico. Stationary and mobile sources of NOx (NO+NO2) and N2O generated in the large urban centers may be responsible for this trend. Comprehensive measurements are required in Puerto Rico to quantitatively characterize the local N cycle. More research is required to assess rates of atmospheric N deposition, N fixation in natural and human-dominated landscapes, N-balance associated with food and feed trade, and denitrification.

Development of a Landforms Model for Puerto Rico and its Application for Land Cover Change Analysis

MARTNUZZI, SEBASTIÁN; GOULD, WILLIAM A.; RAMOS GONZÁLEZ, OLGA M.; EDWARDS, BROOK E. 2007. Development of a Landforms Model for Puerto Rico and its Application for Land Cover Change Analysis.. Caribbean Journal of Science, Vol. 43, No. 2, :161-171.

Comprehensive analysis of land morphology is essential to supporting a wide range environmental studies. We developed a landforms model that identifies eleven landform units for Puerto Rico based on parameters of land position and slope. The model is capable of extracting operational information in a simple way and is adaptable to different environments and objectives. The implementation of the landforms model for land cover change analysis represents an advanced step towards understanding the expansion of urban areas and forest cover in Puerto Rico between 1977 and 1994. Expansion of urban areas has typically been associated with low and flat topographies. Forest recovery, on the other hand, has been associated with high elevations and steep slopes. Our study revealed that (1) nearly half of new developments occurred outside the plains, (2) almost all new forests occurred in mountain regions (but not on the steepest slopes), and (3) there are transitional and very dynamic landforms (the side slopes) that experience both important land development and forest recovery. Finally, we present additional examples of the landforms model applications, including vegetation mapping, physiography, and the modeling of vertebrate habitat distributions.
Syndicate content