Pérez Gómez, Rufino; Ibañez, Juan José; Brevik, Eric C. y Cerdà, Artemi
Islands of biogeodiversity in arid lands on a polygons map study: Detecting scale invariance patterns from natural resources maps.
"Science of the Total Environment", v. 573
Abstract Many maps (geology, hydrology, soil, vegetation, etc.) are created to inventory natural resources. Each of these resources is mapped using a unique set of criteria, including scales and taxonomies. Past research indicates that comparing results of related maps (e.g., soil and geology maps) may aid in identifying mapping deficiencies. Therefore, this study was undertaken in Almeria Province, Spain to (i) compare the underlying map structures of soil and vegetation maps and (ii) investigate if a vegetation map can provide useful soil information that was not shown on a soil map. Soil and vegetation maps were imported into ArcGIS 10.1 for spatial analysis, and results then exported to Microsoft Excel worksheets for statistical analyses to evaluate fits to linear and power law regression models. Vegetative units were grouped according to the driving forces that determined their presence or absence: (i) climatophilous (ii) lithologic-climate; and (iii) edaphophylous. The rank abundance plots for both the soil and vegetation maps conformed to Willis or Hollow Curves, meaning the underlying structures of both maps were the same. Edaphophylous map units, which represent 58.5% of the vegetation units in the study area, did not show a good correlation with the soil map. Further investigation revealed that 87% of the edaphohygrophilous units were found in ramblas, ephemeral riverbeds that are not typically classified and mapped as soils in modern systems, even though they meet the definition of soil given by the most commonly used and most modern soil taxonomic systems. Furthermore, these edaphophylous map units tend to be islands of biodiversity that are threatened by anthropogenic activity in the region. Therefore, this study revealed areas that need to be revisited and studied pedologically. The vegetation mapped in these areas and the soils that support it are key components of the earth's critical zone that must be studied, understood, and preserved.