Forest and grassland soils in highlands of southern Mediterranean Turkey are being seriously degraded and destructed due to extensive agricultural activities. This study investigated the effects of changes in land-use type on some soil properties in a Mediterranean plateau. Three adjacent land-use types included the cultivated lands, which have been converted from pastures for 12 years, fragmented forests, and unaltered pastures lands. Disturbed and undisturbed soil samples were collected from four sites at each of the three different land-use types from depths of 0-10 cm and 10-20 cm in Typic Haploxeroll soils with an elevation of about 1400 m. When the pasture was converted into cultivation, soil organic matter (SOM) pool of cultivated lands for a depth of 0-20 cm were significantly reduced by, on average 49% relative to SOM content of the pasture lands. There was no significant difference in SOM between the depths in each land-use type, and SOM values of the forest and pasture lands were almost similar. There was also a significant change in soil bulk density (BD) among cultivation (1.33 Mg m(-3)), pasture (1.19 Mg m(-3)), and forest (1.25 Mg m(-3)) soils at depth of 0-20 cm. Only for the pasture, BD of the depth of 0-10 cm was significantly different from that of 10-20 cm. Depending upon the increases in BD and disruption of pores by cultivation, total porosity decreased accordingly. Cultivation of the unaltered pasture obviously increased the soil erodibility measured by USLE-K factor for each soil depth, and USLE-K factor was approximately two times greater in the cultivated land than in the pasture indicating the vulnerability of the cultivated land to water erosion. The mean weight diameter (MWD) and water-stable aggregation (WSA) were greater in the pasture and forest soils compared to the cultivated soils, and didn't change with the depth for each land-use type. Aggregates of >4.0 mm size were dominant in the pasture and forest soils, whereas the cultivated soils comprised aggregates of the size <= 0.5 mm. I found that samples collected from cultivated land gave the lowest saturated hydraulic conductivity values regardless of soil depths, whereas the highest values were measured on samples from forest soils. In conclusion, the results showed that the cultivation of the pastures degraded the soil physical properties, leaving soils more susceptible to the erosion. This suggests that land disturbances should be strictly avoided in the pastures with the limited soil depth in the southern Mediterranean highlands. (C) 2004 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.