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Physical and Chemical Variations of the Soil Under Two Desert Shrubs in Tehuacan, Mexico

Serrano-Vázquez, Angélica1,2; Rodríguez-Zaragoza, Salvador2; Pérez-Juárez, Horacio2,3; Bazán-Cuenca, Jesús2; Rivera-Aguilar, Víctor Manuel2; Durán, Ángel4

Soil Science:
doi: 10.1097/SS.0b013e318289b24a
Technical Article

Abstract: Desert shrubs modify the soil’s physical and chemical properties under their canopies, making it different from bare soil. Knowledge of the bare soil’s physical and chemical properties and their variation under Prosopis laevigata and Parkinsonia praecox is necessary to understand the functioning of desert microenvironments. The objective of this study was to determine the soil structure, temperature, texture, moisture, water-holding capacity, electrical conductivity (EC), pH, organic matter (OM), and orthophosphate (OP) content of bare soil and the variations of these factors under P. laevigata and P. praecox at 0- to 50-cm depths during a seasonal cycle in Tehuacan, Mexico. Soils under the shrubs have more structure, particularly at depths of 0 to 10 cm. The soil properties vary most from 0 to 10 cm along a seasonal cycle under the shrubs. Soils under P. praecox have the lowest temperature, whereas bare soil exhibits the lowest amount of moisture and highest EC. The surfaces of soil shrubs have the highest water-holding capacity, pH, OM, and OP. Sand, silt, and clay content vary with season and depth but not between microenvironments (α < 0.05). Temperature, sand, OM, and OP decrease with increasing depth, whereas clay and EC increase (α < 0.05). Electrical conductivity is the most variable soil property (coefficient of variation > 60%). Significant correlations were observed among the soil properties, with the strongest correlation between OM and OP under P. praecox (R = 9.86; P < 0.05). Cluster analysis of the physical and chemical soil properties yielded three groups (90% similarity).

Author Information

1Posgrado en Ciencias Biológicas, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Estado de México, México.

2Laboratorio de Microbiología, UBIPRO, FES-Iztacala, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Tlalnepantla, Estado de México, México.

3Instituto de Ecología, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, México D.F., México.

4Carrera de Biología, FES-Iztacala, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Tlalnepantla, Estado de México, México.

Address for correspondence: Angélica Serrano-Vázquez, Laboratorio de Microbiología, UBIPRO, FES-Iztacala, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Av. de los Barrios No. 1, Los Reyes Iztacala, Tlalnepantla, CP: 54090, Estado de México, México. E-mail:

Financial Disclosures/Conflicts of Interest: This study was supported by the following programs: UNAM-DGAPA-PAPIIT (IN221709 and IN217112) and FES-IZTACALA-UNAM-PAPCA (2011-2012). The authors thank CONACyT for their doctoral scholarship program (CVU No. 169204).

The authors report no conflicts of interest.

Received July 24, 2012.

Accepted for publication January 24, 2013.

© 2013 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.