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Latitudinal effect of vegetation on erosion rates identified along western South America

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Science  20 Mar 2020:
Vol. 367, Issue 6484, pp. 1358-1361
DOI: 10.1126/science.aaz0840

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Erosion-vegetation interactions

The impact of vegetation on erosion rates is hard to gauge. Although vegetation can hold soils in place mechanically, root systems can also loosen soils or even help to fracture rock. These processes can increase erosion, especially because areas of heavy vegetation tend to be in areas with high precipitation rates. Starke et al. tackled this issue using a large set of observations that span 3500 km of the Andes mountain range. They found a complex set of interactions where increasing vegetation decreases erosion in more arid regions but can accelerate erosion in vegetation dense regions.

Science, this issue p. 1358

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