J. Bio. Env. Sci.5(1), 199-213, July 2014
Soil organic carbon (SOC) stock in mountain ecosystems is highly heterogeneous because of differences in soil parent material, climate, vegetation and topography. The area is unexplored with respect to distribution of SOC stock. Furthermore, SOC distribution factors like altitude, slope aspect, vegetation, deforestation and depth of soil remain unclear. In the present study SOC stock and bulk density in three depths were determined in 10-sites of forest under different altitude (2787-3600 m), slope aspect (north and south facing slope) and vegetation types on the mountainous forest of Bagrot valley, North Karakorum, Gilgit-Baltistan. The results showed that SOC stock and bulk density varied significantly with respect to altitude, aspect, vegetation and depths (p < 0.05). SOC stocks correlated positively with the altitude but negatively with bulk density, depth and pH. Mean SOC at north facing slope was comparatively higher than the south facing slope. The highest SOC stock was observed in Rakhan forest site at altitude 3460 m located at north facing slope and dominated by dense Betula utilis (Birch) vegetation. Similarly, the lowest SOC stock was found at the Gasonar forest site covered by Juniperous excels vegetation, where severely deforested was observed. The variation in SOC stocks were mainly due to the increasing precipitation and decreasing temperature and pH with altitude, which resulted in decreased litter decomposition. In addition to altitude the vegetation, soil depth and deforestation also significantly effect on SOC stock. Soil bulk density followed the above pattern but in inversed order.
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