Is Overgrazing Really Influencing Soil Erosion?

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Soil erosion is a serious problem spread over a variety of climatic areas around the world. The main purpose of this paper is to produce gully erosion susceptibility maps using different statistical models, such as frequency ratio (FR) and information value (IV), in a catchment from the northeastern part of Romania, covering a surface of 550 km2. In order to do so, a total number of 677 gullies were identified and randomly divided into training (80%) and validation (20%) datasets. In total, 10 conditioning factors were used to assess the gully susceptibility index (GSI); namely, elevation, precipitations, slope angle, curvature, lithology, drainage density, topographic wetness index, landforms, aspect, and distance from rivers. As a novelty, overgrazing was added as a conditioning factor. The final GSI maps were classified into four susceptibility classes: low, medium, high, and very high. In order to evaluate the two models prediction rate, the AUC (area under the curve) method was used. It has been observed that adding overgrazing as a contributing factor in calculating GSI does not considerably change the final output. Better predictability (0.87) and success rate (0.89) curves were obtained with the IV method, which proved to be more robust, unlike FR method, with 0.79 value for both predictability and success rate curves. When using sheepfolds, the value decreases by 0.01 in the case of the FR method, and by 0.02 in the case of the success rate curve for the IV method. However, this does not prove the fact that overgrazing is not influencing or accelerating soil erosion. A multi-temporal analysis of soil erosion is needed; this represents a future working hypothesis.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1077
Number of pages16
JournalWater (Switzerland)
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 13 Aug 2018

Bibliographical note

This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited


  • Frequency ratio
  • GIS
  • Gully erosion
  • Information value
  • Northeastern Romania
  • Overgrazing
  • Statistical modelling


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