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Vegetation as a driver of temporal variations in slope stability: The impact of hydrological processes

Kim J.H., Fourcaud T., Jourdan C., Maeght J.L., Mao Z., Metayer J., Meylan L., Pierret A., Rapidel B., Roupsard O., De Rouw A., Villatoro-Sánchez M., Wang Y., Stokes A.. 2017. Geophysical Research Letters, 44 (10) : p. 4897-4907.

DOI: 10.1002/2017GL073174

Although vegetation is increasingly used to mitigate landslide risks, how vegetation affects the temporal variability of slope stability is poorly understood, especially in earthquake-prone regions. We combined 3-year long soil moisture monitoring, measurements of soil physical properties and plant functional traits, and numerical modeling to compare slope stability under paired land uses with and without trees in tropical, subtropical, and temperate landslide- and earthquake-prone regions. Trees improved stability for 5¿12 months per year from drawdown of soil moisture and resulted in less interannual variability in the duration of high-stability periods compared to slopes without trees. Our meta-analysis of published data also showed that slopes with woody vegetation were more stable and less sensitive to climate and soil factors than slopes with herbaceous vegetation. However, estimates of earthquake magnitude necessary to destabilize slopes at our sites suggest that large additional stabilization from trees is necessary for meaningful protection against external triggers.

Mots-clés : terre en pente; Érosion; conservation des sols; couvert; arbre forestier; couverture du sol; couverture végétale; stabilisation du sol; utilisation des terres; forêt; hydrologie; montagne; république démocratique populaire lao; costa rica; france

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