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Faculty of Crop Science (CP)
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Department of Food Science and Technology
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    ABSTRACT: An approach to derive relationships for defining land degradation and desertification risk and developing appropriate tools for assessing the effectiveness of the various land management practices using indicators is presented in the present paper. In order to investigate which indicators are most effective in assessing the level of desertification risk, a total of 70 candidate indicators was selected providing information for the biophysical environment, socio-economic conditions, and land management characteristics. The indicators were defined in 1,672 field sites located in 17 study areas in the Mediterranean region, Eastern Europe, Latin America, Africa, and Asia. Based on an existing geo-referenced database, classes were designated for each indicator and a sensitivity score to desertification was assigned to each class based on existing research. The obtained data were analyzed for the various processes of land degradation at farm level. The derived methodology was assessed using independent indicators, such as the measured soil erosion rate, and the organic matter content of the soil. Based on regression analyses, the collected indicator set can be reduced to a number of effective indicators ranging from 8 to 17 in the various processes of land degradation. Among the most important indicators identified as affecting land degradation and desertification risk were rain seasonality, slope gradient, plant cover, rate of land abandonment, land-use intensity, and the level of policy implementation.
    Environmental Management 11/2014; 54:951-970.
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    ABSTRACT: Indicator-based approaches are often used to monitor land degradation and desertification from the global to the very local scale. However, there is still little agreement on which indicators may best reflect both status and trends of these phenomena. In this study, various processes of land degradation and desertification have been analyzed in 17 study sites around the world using a wide set of biophysical and socioeconomic indicators. The database described earlier in this issue by Kosmas and others (Environ Manage, 2013) for defining desertification risk was further analyzed to define the most important indicators related to the following degradation processes: water erosion in various land uses, tillage erosion, soil salinization, water stress, forest fires, and overgrazing. A correlation analysis was applied to the selected indicators in order to identify the most important variables contributing to each land degradation process. The analysis indicates that the most important indicators are: (i) rain seasonality affecting water erosion, water stress, and forest fires, (ii) slope gradient affecting water erosion, tillage erosion and water stress, and (iii) water scarcity soil salinization, water stress, and forest fires. Implementation of existing regulations or policies concerned with resources development and environmental sustainability was identified as the most important indicator of land protection.
    Environmental Management 11/2014; 54:971-982.
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    ABSTRACT: Despite that phenolics are considered as a major weapon against herbivores and pathogens, the primal reason for their evolution may have been the imperative necessity for their UV-absorbing and antioxidant properties in order for plants to compensate for the adverse terrestrial conditions. In dry climates the choice concerning the first dilemma (carbon gain vs. water saving) needs the appropriate structural and metabolic modulations, which protect against stresses such as high UV and visible radiation or drought, but reduce photosynthesis and increase oxidative pressure. Thus, when water saving is chosen, priority is given to protection (including phenolic synthesis), instead of carbon gain and hence growth. At the global level, the different choices by the individual species are expressed by an interspecific negative relationship between total phenolics and photosynthesis. On the other hand, the accumulation of phenolics in water saving plants offers additional defensive functions because these multifunctional compounds can also act as pro-oxidant, antifeeding or toxic factors. Therefore phenolics, as biochemical jokers, can give the answer to both dilemmas: water saving involves high concentrations of phenolics which also offer high level of defence.
    Plant Science 10/2014;

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Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition 02/2006; 46(1):23-56.
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