The effect of altitude on soil organic carbon content in semi-arid mediterranean climate



Soil organic carbon, Altitude, Land use, Erosion


One of the most effective means in the combating climate change and desertification is soil organic carbon (SOC) management. However, land use puts a high pressure to fragile SOC pools particularly in semi-arid environments where SOC decomposition rate is high due to low soil moisture. Therefore, at higher elevations of Mediterranean Basin with cooler temperature SOC is higher than the coastal plains due to the better soil moisture contents. Agricultural pressure on highlands has increased in recent years because of the relatively low water requirement of crops. The purpose of this study is to analyze and determine the SOC dynamics in relation to the variations of soil physical and chemical characteristics from different elevations, ranging from 64 meters to 756 meters at semi-arid Mediterranean climate. SOC revealed decreases versus altitude increases that varied from 24.7 to 38.7 t ha-1 with a correlation coefficient of 0.527. The main driver of decreasing SOC by elevation is most probably displacing of fine particles from surface horizons by accelerated erosion at sloping and cultivated lands of higher altitudes. As a result, it is necessary to focus both on the plant pattern along with land management techniques for enhancing soil organic matter in agricultural production for enhancing SOC at higher elevations.


Download data is not yet available.

• Akça, E., Arocena, J., Kelling, G., Nagano, T., Degryse, P., Poblome, J., Çambel, H., Buyuk, G., Tümay, T., S. Kapur. (2009). Firing temperatures and raw material sources of ancient Hittite ceramics of Asia Minor. Transactions of the Indian Ceramic Society. 68(1): 35-40. Doi:

• Akça, E., Berberoğlu, S., Nagano, T., Kapur, S. (2020). Mediterranean anthroscapes. The Bioeconomy Approach: Constraints and Opportunities for Sustainable Development. 149. Retrieved from:

• Aslantaş, R., Karakurt, H. (2007). Rakimin Meyve Yetiştiriciliğinde Önemi ve Etkileri. Alınteri ZBD., 12(2), 31-37.

• Bangroo, S. A., Najar, G. R., Rasool, A. (2017). Effect of altitude and aspect on soil organic carbon and nitrogen stocks in the Himalayan Mawer Forest Range. Catena, 158, 63-68 (in Turkish). Doi:

• Büyük, G., Akça, E., Kume, T., Nagano, T. (2020). Biomass Effect on Soil Organic Carbon in Semi-Arid Continental Conditions in Central Turkey. Pol. J. Environ. Stud., 29(5), 3525-3533.Doi:

• Dieleman, W. I., Venter, M., Ramachandra, A., Krockenberger, A. K., Bird, M. I. (2013). Soil carbon stocks vary predictably with altitude in tropical forests: Implications for soil carbon storage. Geoderma, 204, 59-67. Doi:

• GDCDE. (2018). Soil Organic Carbon Project, Technical Summary", with the General Directorate of Combating Desertification and Soil Erosion (GDCDE), Ankara, Turkey (in Turkish). Retrieved from:

• Göl, C. (2017). Assessing the amount of soil organic matter and soil properties in high mountain forests in Central Anatolia and the effects of climate and altitude. J. For. Sci., 63(5), 199-205. Doi:

• Jobbágy, E. G., and Jackson, R. B. (2000). The vertical distribution of soil organic carbon and its relation to climate and vegetation. Ecol Appl., 10(2), 423-436. Doi:[0423:TVDOSO]2.0.CO;2

• Kidanemariam, A., Gebrekidan, H., Mamo, T., Kibret, K. (2012). Impact of altitude and land use type on some physical and chemical properties of acidic soils in Tsegede Highlands, Northern Ethiopia. Open J. Soil Sci., 2(03), 223. Doi:

• Lee J, Hopmans JW, Rolston DE, Baer SG, Six J. (2009). Determining soil carbon stock changes: simple bulk density corrections fail. Agric Ecosyst Environ. 134:251–256. Doi:

• Manojlović, M., Čabilovski, R., Sitaula, B. (2011). Soil Organic Carbon in Serbian Mountain Soils: Effects of Land Use and Altitude. Pol. J. Environ. Stud., 20(4).

• Matus, F., Rumpel, C., Neculman, R., Panichini, M., Mora, M.L. (2014). Soil carbon storage and stabilization in a aridic soils: a review, Catena. 120,102-110. Doi:

• Oades J.M. (1988). The retention of organic-matter in soils. Biogeochemistry. 5(1):35–70.

• Oechel, W. C., Vourlitis, G. L., Hastings, S. J., Zulueta, R.C., Hinzman, L., Kane, D. (20009. Acclimation of ecosystem CO2 exchange in the Alaskan Arctic in response to decadal climate warming. Nature. 406, 978-981.

• Pirlak, L., Güleryüz, M., Aslantaş, R., Eşitken, A. (2003). Promising native summer apple (Malus domestica) cultivars from north‐eastern Anatolia, Turkey. N.Z.J. Crop Hortic. Sci., 31(4), 311-314. Doi:

• Ramesh, T., Bolan, N. S., Kirkham, M. B., Wijesekara, H., Kanchikerimath, M., Rao, C. S., Freeman II, O. W. (2019). Soil organic carbon dynamics: Impact of land use changes and management practices: A review. Adv. Agron., 156, 1-107. Doı:

• Reichert, J. M., Mentges, M. I., Rodrigues, M. F., Cavalli, J. P., Awe, G. O., Mentges, L. R. (2018). Compressibility and elasticity of subtropical no-till soils varying in granulometry organic matter, bulk density and moisture. Catena. 165, 345-357. Doi:

• Sharma, V. K., Dwivedi, K. S., Tripathi. D., Ahmed, Z. (2006). Status of available major and micro-nutrients in the soils of different blocks of Leh district of cold arid region of Ladakh in relation to soil characteristics. J. Indian Soc. Soil Sci., 54, 248-250.

• Sheikh, M.A., Kumar, M., Bussmann R.W. (2009). Altitudinal variation in soil organic carbon stock in coniferous subtropical and broadleaf temperate forests in Garhwal Himalaya. Carbon Balance and Manag., 4:6. Doi:

• Soil Survey Staff. (2014). Keys to Soil Taxonomy. 12th ed. USDA National Resources Conservation Services, Washington DC. Retrieved from:

• Wagner S., Cattle S.R., Scholten, T. (2007). Soil-aggregate formation as influenced by clay content and organic-matter amendment. J. Plant Nutr. Soil Sci. 170(1):173–180. Doi:

• Yao, L., Guo, N., He, Y., Xiao, Y., Li, Y., Gao, J., Guo, Y. (2019). Variations of soil organic matters and plant cuticular waxes along an altitude gradient in Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. Plant Soil. 1-18. Doi:

• Yılmaz, K. T., Alphan, H., Kosztolányi, A., Ünlükaplan, Y., Derse, M. A. (2020). Coastal Wetland Monitoring and Mapping along the Turkish Mediterranean: Determining the Impact of Habitat Inundation on Breeding Bird Species. J. Coast. Res. 36(5), 961-972. Doi:



How to Cite

ŞİMŞEK, T., BAYRAM, C. A., BÜYÜK, G., AKÇA, E., & KALKANCI, N. (2023). The effect of altitude on soil organic carbon content in semi-arid mediterranean climate. International Journal of Agriculture, Environment and Food Sciences, 7(1).



Research Article