Analysing the effect of land use and vegetation cover on soil infiltration in three contrasting environments in northeast Spain

D. Regüés, D. Badía, M.T. Echeverría, M. Gispert, N. Lana-Renault, J. León, M.E. Nadal, G. Pardini, P. Serrano-Muela


This study presents a joint analysis of the information from 195 field infiltration experiments, using double ring devices. The experiments were carried out in 20 contrasting types of land use, distributed across three geographic contexts (coast of NE Catalonia, low mountains in the central Ebro Valley and mid-height mountains from the southern range of the Central Pyrenees). The objective of this research was to determine the most important factors explaining infiltration variability: land use, type of vegetation cover, soil and bedrock characteristics, soil moisture and altitude. Data analysis was performed by comparing variables using statistical methods: bivariate lineal correlation, ANOVA and Bonferroni multiple comparison tests. Results show that infiltration variability is the most important factor and mainly linked to land use, followed by vegetation type. In contrast, soil moisture did not show any relation with infiltration. The interpretation of these results suggests that the characteristics of the study areas are more decisive than temporal variations of soil water content, although humidity can influence land use to a greater or lesser degree. The validity of the results obtained in this study is supported by the wide range of land use and land cover analysed, located in areas with different geographical and geological characteristics.


infiltration; double ring test; land use; vegetation cover; soil moisture; northeastern Spain

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