Soil Composition Differences Among Varying Land-Use Habitats on Ometepe Island, Nicaragua
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Agricultural practices have become more aggressive to increase total yield to meet the demands of growing countries. Central American tropical soils have already been considerably altered through different land use practices. However, detailed analyses of its effects on soil composition have not been vastly compared at different elevations. This study examines soil composition among varying land uses on Ometepe Island, Nicaragua, the largest freshwater island in the world. Soil samples were collected and compared throughout three land variables characterized by different land uses. A systematic-point sampling scheme was used within secondary forests, cultivated plantations, and recently burned plantations at the approximate elevations of 50 and 250 meters above sea level. Thirty samples were taken from six plots, each a 20 square meter area. All180 samples were analyzed for percent gravel, percent organic matter, and quantities of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Each variable was compared through an analysis of variance across habitats, elevation, and separate land plots. In general, the higher elevation plots had more organic matter, nitrogen, and potassium than the lower elevation plots, supporting the hypothesis that the lower elevation land was farmed more aggressively. The burned plantations had more organic matter and potassium, and the cultivated plantations had more nitrogen and phosphorus. The low elevation forest had the greatest amount of gravel, the high elevation cultivated plantation had the greatest amount of nitrogen, and the high elevation burned plantation had the greatest amount of potassium.
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