Influence of oil activity and sheep ranching on plant cover in the arid and semi-arid region of Patagonia, Argentina

M.A. Buzzi, B.L. Rueter, L. Ghermandi, F. Maldonado

Abstract


The Geography has provided the greatest theoretical body for the study of the configurations that occur over the geographical space. The generation of cartography that represents ground cover is one of the most important uses of remote sensing. Polygons were selected, with oil and livestock activity, in the landscape units: coastal canyons, plateaus and western valleys. The polygons were used to evaluate multi-temporal changes in land cover and plant communities over a period of 15 years. Supervised classifications and analysis of landscape metrics were made to examine the possible causes of these changes by comparing: i) polygons without oil or livestock activity (control), ii) polygons with oil and livestock activity, iii) polygons with oil activity and without livestock activity, and iv) polygons without oil activity and livestock activity. The results obtained indicated that the density of patches, the total edge, the edge density and the division index of the fragments increased in the three landscape units, between 2001 and 2016. The contagion index, however, decreased. An increase in bare soil was observed in the plateaus and in the western valleys, with a regression of the dominant plant communities. The density of patches in the sites without disturbance was the lowest, and in the sites with both disturbances acting simultaneously was maximum. In the sites without disturbance the effective mesh size was maximum, while in the sites with some disturbance it was smaller. When analyzing the effect of the disturbance on the elements of the landscape it was observed that the presence of the disturbance generates the highest density of patches and the minimum connectivity. The results show that there was a process of fragmentation in the coverage of the soil directed by the oil exploitation and sheep farming, which decrease the size of the patches and, therefore, the density of the same per unit area.


Keywords


arid zones; fragmentation; landscape metrics; oil exploitation; sheep farming

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.18172/cig.3632

© Universidad de La Rioja, 2013

ISSN 0211-6820

EISSN 1697-9540