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Journal of Arid Land  2016, Vol. 8 Issue (2): 293-303    DOI: 10.1007/s40333-015-0019-y
Research Articles     
Competition between Populus euphratica and Tamarix ramosissima seedlings under simulated high groundwater availability
WU Guilin1,2, JIANG Shaowei1,2, LIU Weiyang3, ZHAO Chengyi1, LI Jun1*
1 State Key Laboratory of Desert and Oasis Ecology, Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Urumqi 830011, China;
2 University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China;
3 College of Plant Science, Tarim University, Alar 843300, China
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Abstract  Desert riparian plants experience high variability in water availability due to hydrological fluctuations. How riparian plants can survive with low water availability has been well studied, however, little is known about the effects of high water availability on plant community structuring. We conducted a mesocosm experiment to test whether seedling competition under simulated high groundwater availability can explain the shift of co-dominance of Populus euphratica and Tamarix ramosissima in early communities to P. euphratica dominance in mature ones along the Tarim River in northwestern China. Seedlings of these two plant species were grown in monoculture and mixture pools with high groundwater availability. Results indicated that the above-ground biomass and relative yield of T. ramosissima were higher than those of P. euphratica. The competitive advantages of T. ramosissima included its rapid response in growth to groundwater enrichment and its water spender strategy, as evidenced by the increased leaf biomass proportion and the inert stomatal response to leaf-to-air vapor pressure deficit (VPD). In comparison, P. euphratica showed a conservative strategy in water use, with a sensitive response to leaf-to-air VPD. Result of the short-term competition was inconsistent with the long-term competition in fields, suggesting that competition exclusion is not the mechanism structuring the desert riparian plant communities. Thus, our research highlights the importance of mediation by environmental fluctuations (such as lessening competition induced by disturbance) in structuring plant communities along the Tarim riparian zones.

Key wordswind erosion      estimation model      soil erodibility      snow cover days      aridity      Inner Mongolia     
Received: 23 July 2015      Published: 01 April 2016

This research was funded by the National Basic Research Program of China (2013CB429903) and the National Natural Science Foundation of China (41171037, 41171095).

Corresponding Authors: LI Jun     E-mail:
Cite this article:

WU Guilin, JIANG Shaowei, LIU Weiyang, ZHAO Chengyi, LI Jun. Competition between Populus euphratica and Tamarix ramosissima seedlings under simulated high groundwater availability. Journal of Arid Land, 2016, 8(2): 293-303.

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