عنوان مقاله [English]
Geomorphologists have always considered geomorphological processes such as weathering, erosion, and sedimentation, and tectonic processes as the main factor creatingdifferent landforms in the ecosystem. Moreover, a large part of the earth’s surface is affected by the presence and existence of organisms, thus these biological species play a major role in environmental changes and consequently in the creation of landforms. In fact, geomorphology is one of the important factors affecting vegetation heterogeneity in the scope of landscape. Alluvial fans are among the important and majorgeomorphologicalforms in which two natural parameters of landform and vegetation coexist. Various methods are used to study vegetation density. Vegetation variables are commonly estimated using land surveying, but satellite images have made more accurate methods of rangeland management and alsoestimationof plant quantities in inaccessible areas possible. However, usingdata obtained from satellite imageries for partial measurements has some limitations due to unavailabilityof high spatial resolution images such as QuickBird satellite images or high expenses of retrieving such imagery.In the present study, plant variables were investigated using large-scale aerial imagery and field sampling. Plant density and percent canopy cover were also determined in the study area using the same methods.
Materials & Methods
The area under study is located in the northeastern regions of Semnan province, northernShahroud city. The study area includes three alluvial fans including Saran, Moghatelan and Hot-Sokhteh.
Based on field observations, Google Earth images, and drainage pattern, alluvial fans were divided into active (young surfaces) and inactive (old surfaces) parts. Six sites (P1 to P6) including upstream, downstream, active and inactive parts of the alluvial fans under study were selected in order to determine the density and percent of canopy cover in channels, interfluves (in old surfaces), bars and swales (in young surfaces). The aerial image was acquired using a Dji Phantom 4 Pro Drone with a relative flying height of 100 m, and a 20 megapixel, FC6210 digital camerain December 2018 (Table 1 and Fig. 3). The canopy covers in alluvial fan landforms (including channels, interfluves, bars and swales) were measured using large-scale images (1: 500) acquiredby drone. In the next stage, 50 rectangle and squareshaped plots were selected to determine the density and percent canopy cover of the aforementioned landforms in the upstream and downstream of the three alluvial fans; 5 squareshaped plots with a dimension of 10*10 m were selected from the interfluves, 45 rectangularshaped plots with a dimension of 3*10 m were selected from the channels, swales and bars. Then, percent canopy cover was calculated in each plot and the average percent canopy cover was finally calculated for the 50 plots of each site.
In order to investigate physical and chemical characteristics of soil and its effects on the density and vegetation type across alluvial fans, 48 soil samples were collected from a depth of 0-20 cm in the three alluvial fanseach including active and inactive parts, bars, swales, channels, and interfluves. PH, EC, phosphorus (P), absorbable potassium (K) and sodium (Na), calcium carbonate (CaCO3), Saturation percentage (Sp), water retention capacity of soil (WHC), soil texture, and total organic carbon (OCT) were also measured in the samples.
Sampling vegetation and identifying plant species
In order to identify plant species, field work was carried out in June 2019. Plant species of the study area were identified and a sample was collected, dried and pressed. Systematic random sampling was used in the specified types. In fact, a 200-meter transect was selected in each site, and 8 plots with a dimension of 8 * 8 m were identified along each transect including channels, interfluves, swales, and bars of the upstream and downstream alluvial fans. Therefore, 43 vegetation sampling plots were selected along the 200-meter transect.
Results & Discussion
In the active surfaces of both upstream and downstream alluvial fans, density and percent canopy cover of bars arehigher than those of swales, because of the higher amount of silt and clay in bars. Larger plant species such as shrubs and sub-shrubs requiringfine-textured soil grow in these bars. On the other hand, swales have a higher amount of organic materials and calcium carbonate. EC and PH are lower in the bars as compared to the swales. Water-holding capacity (WHC) and Saturation percentage (Sp) of the soil are higher in the swales as compared to the bars. There are more absorbable potassium and phosphorus in the bars. However, vegetation density and percent canopy cover in swales are lower than those of bars despite their high soil fertility and moisture. This is probably due to the lower stability of the swales whichresults in their higher exposure to unstable currents during occasional storms and floods.
Overall, plant species adapted to the specific environmental conditions are settled in each landform. PerovskiaAbrotanoides is the dominant plant species in active surfaces ofbars. The vegetation type is more limited in the swales of active surfaces including species likePoabulbosa and Bromusdanthoniae.
In inactive surfaces of alluvial fans, elementsrequired for soil fertility (organic materials, calcium carbonate, absorbable potassium and sodium, phosphorus, pH, saturated moisture of the soil, and soil retention) are higher in the interfluves as compared to channels. The relative higher fertility of interfluves can be attributed to their gentle slopes, higher stability and hence higher possibility of soil formation. Long-term exposure of sediments or alluviums to weathering elements on relatively flat surfaces of interfluves has resulted in the formation of more clay and silt, and thereby denser vegetation in interfluves compared to channels. Herbaceous and shrub species, which require fine-textured soils, settle in interfluves. On the other hand, vegetation density of channels with higher amounts of sand and pebbles is lower likely due to their steep slopes as well as their higher level of erosion. However, percent of canopy cover is higher in channels as compared to interfluves. Channels have a relatively higher level of moisturesince they are in the shade and in vicinity of groundwater. Hence, shrubsare settled in these landforms. These species havea denser canopy cover, and deeper roots and require coarser soil texture.
Artemisia sieberi is the dominant plant species in inactive surfacesofinterfluves.This species is a sun-loving plant requiring lots ofsunshine to grow.Apart from Artemisia sieberi, other plants such as Astragalus sp., Acanthophyllum sp., Peganumharmala, AmygdalusScoparia and convolvulus acanthocladus have also settled in the interfluves.
Analyzing vegetation density and percent canopy cover of alluvial fans and their related landforms indicated that bushes are more frequent in the interfluves of old surfaces as compared to other parts of these fans. Despitelower vegetation densityin bars of young fans and channels of old fans, they have a larger type of vegetation (mainly shrubs) and thus, a higherpercent canopy cover. Generally, this study has revealed that bushes are more frequent in the old alluvial fans, especially upstream parts of the fans as compared to other areas. Overall, the results indicate that geomorphological processes such as aggradation and degradation affect the texture and fertility of soil as well as type and density of vegetation.