Please wait a minute...
Journal of Arid Land  2014, Vol. 6 Issue (6): 725-734    DOI: 10.1007/s40333-014-0027-3
Research Articles     
Carbon fixation and its influence factors of biological soil crusts in a revegetated area of the Tengger Desert, northern China
Lei HUANG1,2*, ZhiShan ZHANG1,2, XinRong LI1,2
1 Shapotou Desert Research and Experimental Station, Cold and Arid Regions Environmental and Engineering Research Institute, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Lanzhou 730000, China;
2 Key Laboratory of Stress Physiology and Ecology in Cold and Arid Regions of Gansu Province, Lanzhou 730000, China
Download:   PDF(952KB)
Export: BibTeX | EndNote (RIS)      

Abstract  Biological soil crusts (BSCs) are an important type of land cover in arid desert landscapes and play an important role in the carbon source-sink exchange within a desert system. In this study, two typical BSCs, moss crusts and algae crusts, were selected from a revegetated sandy area of the Tengger Desert in northern China, and the experiment was carried out over a 3 year period from January 2010 to November 2012. We obtained the effective active wetting time to maintain the physiological activity of BSCs based on the continuous field measurements and previous laboratory studies on BSCs photosynthesis and respiration rates. And then we developed a BSCs carbon fixation model that is driven by soil moisture. The results indicated that moss crusts and algae crusts had significant effects on soil moisture and temperature dynamics by decreasing rainfall infiltration. The mean carbon fixation rates of moss and algae crusts were 0.21 and 0.13 g C/(m2•d), respectively. The annual carbon fixations of moss crusts and algae crusts were 64.9 and 38.6 g C/(m2•a), respectively, and the carbon fixation of non-rainfall water reached 11.6 g C/(m2•a) (30.2% of the total) and 8.8 g C/(m2•a) (43.6% of the total), respectively. Finally, the model was tested and verified with continuous field observations. The data of the modeled and measured CO2 fluxes matched notably well. In desert regions, the carbon fixation is higher with high-frequency rainfall even the total amount of seasonal rainfall was the same.

Key wordsarid areas      classifications      climate zoning      factor-cluster analysis     
Received: 07 November 2013      Published: 10 December 2014

This work was supported by the Innovation Project from the Chinese Academy of Sciences (KZCX2-EW-301-3), the National Key Basic Research Program (2013CB429905) and the National Natural Scientific Foundation of China (41201084; 31170385).

Corresponding Authors: Lei HUANG     E-mail:
Cite this article:

Lei HUANG, ZhiShan ZHANG, XinRong LI. Carbon fixation and its influence factors of biological soil crusts in a revegetated area of the Tengger Desert, northern China. Journal of Arid Land, 2014, 6(6): 725-734.

URL:     OR

Belnap J, Lange O L, 2003. Biological Soil Crusts: Structure, Function, and Management. Berlin: Springer-Verlage, 3–30. 

Belnap J, Welter R, Grimm N B, et al. 2005. Linkages between microbial and hydrologic processes in arid and semiarid watersheds. Ecology, 86: 298–307.

Beymer R J, Klopatek J M. 1991. Potential contribution of carbon by microphytic crusts in pinyon-juniper woodlands. Arid Soil Research and Rehabilitation, 5: 187–198.

Bowker M A. 2007. Biological soil crust rehabilitation in theory and practice: an underexploited opportunity. Restoration Ecology, 15: 3–23.

Brostoff W N, Sharifi M R, Rundel P W. 2002. Photosynthesis of cryptobiotic crusts in a seasonally inundated system of pans and dunes at Edwards Air Force Base, western Mojave Desert, California: Laboratory studies. Flora, 197: 143–151.

Brostoff W N, Sharifi M R, Rundel P W. 2005. Photosynthesis of cryptobiotic soil crusts in a seasonally inundated system of pans and dunes in the western Mojave Desert, CA: Field studies. Flora, 200: 592–600.

Davey M C. 1997. Effects of continuous and repeated dehydration on carbon fixation by bryophytes from the maritime Antarctic. Oecologia, 110: 25–31.

Evans R D, Lange O L. 2001. Biological soil crusts and ecosystem nitrogen and carbon dynamics. In: Belnap J, Lange O L. Biological Soil Crusts: Structure, Function, and Management. Berlin: Springer-Verlage, 263–280.

Garcia-Pichel F, Belnap J. 1996. Microenvironments and microscale productivity of cyanobacterial desert crusts. Journal of Phycology, 32: 774–782.

Garcia-Pichel F, Belnap J, Neuer S, et al. 2003. Estimates of global cyanobacterial biomass and its distribution. Archive for Hydrobiology/Algological Studies, 109: 213–227.

Harley P C, Tenhunen J D, Murray K J, et al. 1989. Irradiance and temperature effects on photosynthesis of tussock tundra Sphagnum mosses from the foothills of the Philip Smith Mountains, Alaska. Oecologia, 79: 251–259.

Jeffries D L, Link S O, Klopatek J M. 1993. CO2 fluxes of cryptogamic crusts I. response to resaturation. New Phytologist, 125: 163–173.

Jia R L. 2009. Photosynthetic ecophysiological characteristics of moss crusts in a revegetated area of the Tengger Desert. Ph.D. Thesis, Beijing: Graduate School of Chinese Academy of Sciences. (in Chinese)

Kappen L, Lange O L, Schulze E D, et al. 1979. Ecophysiological investigations on lichens of the Negev Desert: IV. Annual course of the photosynthetic production of Ramalina maciformis (Del.) Bory. Flora, 168: 85–105.

Kappen L. 1993. Plant activity under snow and ice, with particular reference to lichens. Arctic, 46: 297–302.

Lange O L, Geiger I L, Schulze E D. 1977. Ecophysiological investigations on lichens of the Negev Desert. V. A model to simulate net photosynthesis and respiration of Ramalina maciformis. Oecologia, 28: 247–259.

Lange O L, Kidron G J, Budel B, et al. 1992. Taxonomic com-position and photosynthetic characteristics of the biological soil crusts covering the sand dunes in the western Negev Desert. Function Ecology, 6: 519–527.

Lange O L, Meyer A, Zellner H, et al. 1994. Photosynthesis and water relations of lichen soil crusts: field measurements in the coastal fog zone of the Namib Desert. Function Ecology, 8: 253–264.

Lange O L, Belnap J, Reichenberger H. 1998. Photosynthesis of the cyanobacterial soil-crust lichen Collema tenax from arid lands in southern Utah, USA: role of water content on light and temperature responses of CO2 exchange. Function Ecology, 12: 195–202.

Lange O L. 2000. Photosynthetic performance of a gelatinous lichen under temperate habitat conditions: Long term monitoring of CO2 exchange of Collema cristatum. Bibliotheca Lichenologica, 75: 307–332.

Lange O L. 2003. Photosynthesis of soil-crust biota as dependent on environmental factors. In: Belnap J, Lange O L. Biological Soil Crusts: Structure, Function, and Management. Berlin: Springer-Verlage, 217–240.

Li X R, Xiao H L, Zhang J G, et al. 2004. Long-term ecosystem effects of sandbinding vegetation in Shapotou region of Tengger Desert, northern China. Restoration Ecology, 12: 376–390.

Li X R, He M Z, Stefan Z, et al. 2010. Micro-geomorphology determines community structure of BSCs at small scale. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms, 35: 932–940.

Li X R, Jia R L, Chen Y W, et al. 2011. Association of ant nests with successional stages of biological soil crusts in the Tengger Desert, Northern China. Applied Soil Ecology, 47: 59–66.

Li X R, Zhang P, Su Y G, et al. 2012. Carbon fixation by biological soil crusts following revegetation of sand dunes in arid desert regions of China: a four-year field study. Catena, 97: 119–126.

Li X R, Zhang Z S, Huang L, et al. 2013. Review of the ecohydrological processes and feedback mechanisms controlling sand-binding vegetation systems in sandy desert regions of China. Chinese Science Bulletin, 58: 1483–1496. (in Chinese)

O'neill A L. 1994. Reflectance spectra of microphytic soil crusts in semi-arid Australia. International Journal of Remote Sensing, 15: 675–681.

Pan Y X, Wang X P, Zhang Y F. 2010. Dew formation characteristics in a revegetation-stabilized desert ecosystem in Shapotou area, Northern China. Journal of Hydrology, 387: 265–272.

Pietrasiak N, Regus J U, Johansen J R, et al. 2013. Biological soil crust community types differ in key ecological functions. Soil Biology and Biochemistry, 65: 168–171.

Sala O E, Lauenroth W K. 1982. Small rainfall events: an ecological role in semiarid regions. Oecologia, 53: 301–304.

Saugier B, Roy J, Mooney H A. 2001. Estimations of global terrestrial productivity: converging towards a single number? In: Roy J, Saugier B, Mooney H A. Global Terrestrial Productivity. San Diego: Academic Press, 541–555.

Schuh G, Heiden A C, Hoffmann T, et al. 1997. Emissions of volatile organic compounds from sunflower and beech: dependence on temperature and light intensity. Journal of Atmospheric Chemistry, 27: 291–318.

Sonesson M, Gehrke C, Tjus M. 1992. CO2 environment, microclimate and photosynthetic characteristics of the moss Hylocomium splendens in a subarctic habitat. Oecologia, 92: 23–29.

Su Y G, Li X R, Chen Y W, et al. 2011. Carbon fixation of cyanobacterial–algal crusts after desert fixation and its implication to soil organic carbon accumulation in desert. Land Degradation and Development, 24: 342–349.

Su Y G, Li X R, Qi P C, et al. 2012. Carbon exchange responses of Cyanobacterial-Algal crusts to dehydration, air temperature, and CO2 concentration. Arid Land Research and Management, 26: 44–58.

Wilske B, Burgheimer J, Karnieli A, et al. 2008. The CO2 exchange of biological soil crusts in a semiarid grass shrubland at the northern transition zone of the Negev desert, Israel. Biogeosciences, 5: 1411–1423.

Wilske B, Gurgheimer J, Maseyk K, et al. 2009. Modeling the variability in annual carbon fluxes related to biological soil crust in a Mediterranean shrubland. Biogeosciences Discussion, 6: 7295–7324.

Zotz C G, Schweikert A, Jetz W, et al. 2000. Water relations and carbon gain are closely related to cushion size in the moss Grimmia pulvinata. New Phytologist, 148: 59–67.

[1] Abdulrahim M AL-ISMAILI, Moustafa A FADEL, Hemantha JAYASURIYA, L H Janitha JEEWANTHA, Adel AL-MAHDOURI, Talal AL-SHUKEILI. Potential reduction in water consumption of greenhouse evaporative coolers in arid areas via earth-tube heat exchangers[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2021, 13(4): 388-396.
[2] ZHANG Yongkun, HUANG Mingbin. Spatial variability and temporal stability of actual evapotranspiration on a hillslope of the Chinese Loess Plateau[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2021, 13(2): 189-204.
[3] Nadia KAMALI, Hamid SIROOSI, Ahmad SADEGHIPOUR. Impacts of wind erosion and seasonal changes on soil carbon dioxide emission in southwestern Iran[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2020, 12(4): 690-700.
[4] Pingping XUE, Xuelai ZHAO, Yubao GAO, Xingdong HE. Phenotypic plasticity of Artemisia ordosica seedlings in response to different levels of calcium carbonate in soil[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2019, 11(1): 58-65.
[5] FeiLong HU, WenKai SHOU, Bo LIU, ZhiMin LIU, Carlos A BUSSO. Species composition and diversity, and carbon stock in a dune ecosystem in the Horqin Sandy Land of northern China[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2015, 7(1): 82-93.
[6] QingLing GENG, PuTe WU, QingFeng ZHANG, XiNing ZHAO, YuBao WANG. Dry/wet climate zoning and delimitation of arid areas of Northwest China based on a data-driven fashion[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2014, 6(3): 287-299.
[7] WenJun HU, JieBin ZHANG, YongQiang LIU. The qanats of Xinjiang: historical development, characteristics and modern implications for environmental protection[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2012, 4(2): 211-220.
[8] Yan ZHANG, ChangYou LI, XiaoHong SHI, Chao LI. The migration of total dissolved solids during natural freezing process in Ulansuhai Lake[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2012, 4(1): 85-94.
[9] Xi CHEN, BaiLian LI, Qin LI, JunLi LI, Saparnov ABDULLA. Spatio-temporal pattern and changes of evapotranspiration in arid Central Asia and Xinjiang of China[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2012, 4(1): 105-112.