Please wait a minute...
Journal of Arid Land  2016, Vol. 8 Issue (3): 434-442    DOI: 10.1007/s40333-016-0001-3
Research Articles     
Spatial variation of plant species richness in a sand dune field of northeastern Inner Mongolia, China
WU Jing1,2, QIAN Jianqiang2, HOU Xianzhang1, Carlos A BUSSO3, LIU Zhimin2*, XING Baozhen1
1 Liaoning Forestry Vocation-Technical College, Shenyang 110164, China;
2 State Key Laboratory of Forest and Soil Ecology, Institute of Applied Ecology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shenyang 110016, China;
3 Department of Agronomy, National University of the South and CERZOS (CONICET), Bahía Blanca 8000, Argentina
Download:   PDF(339KB)
Export: BibTeX | EndNote (RIS)      

Abstract  Species richness is an important indicator of species diversity. Different sampling intensities will very likely produce different species richness values. Substantial efforts have already been made to explicitly quantify the spatial variability of soil properties in different ecosystems. However, concerns still remain on how to characterize the effect of different sampling intensities on plant species richness within a given region. This study characterized the spatial variability of plant species richness and the species distribution pattern in a 25-hm2 sand dune plot in northeastern Inner Mongolia, China by using an intense sampling method (n=10,000). We also evaluated the overall effect of information loss associated with the spatial variability and distribution patterns of species richness under various scenarios of sampling intensities (n=10,000 to 289). Our results showed that semi-variograms of species richness were best described by the spherical and exponential models. As indicated by the nugget/sill ratio, species richness was different in terms of the strength of the spatial relationship. The different spatial metrics of species richness with increasing sampling intensities can represent different responses of the spatial patterns when compared with the reference set (n=10,000). This study indicated that an appropriate sampling intensity should be taken into account in field samplings for evaluating species biodiversity properly. A sampling intensity of n>2,500 for species richness yielded satisfactory results to resemble the spatial pattern of the above-quantified reference set (n=10,000) in this sand dune region of China.

Key wordsZygophyllum xanthoxylum      pollination      pollen limitation      floral visitor      fruit set      seed set      breeding system     
Received: 08 August 2015      Published: 01 June 2016

The National Basic Research Program of China (2013CB429903)

Corresponding Authors: LIU Zhimin     E-mail:
Cite this article:

WU Jing, QIAN Jianqiang, HOU Xianzhang, Carlos A BUSSO, LIU Zhimin, Xing Baozhen. Spatial variation of plant species richness in a sand dune field of northeastern Inner Mongolia, China. Journal of Arid Land, 2016, 8(3): 434-442.

URL:     OR

Busso C A, Bonvissuto G L, Torres Y A. 2012. Seedling recruitment and survival of two desert grasses in the Monte of Argentina. Land Degradation & Development, 23(2): 116–129.

Cao C Y, Jiang S Y, Ying Z, et al. 2011. Spatial variability of soil nutrients and microbiological properties after the establishment of leguminous shrub Caragana microphylla Lam. Plantation on sand dune in the Horqin sandy land of Northeast China. Ecological Engineering, 37(10): 1467–1475.

Conant R T, Paustian K. 2002. Spatial variability of soil organic carbon in grasslands: implications for detecting change at different scales. Environmental Pollution, 116(Supp1.): S127–S135.

Confalonieri R, Perego A, Chiodini M E, et al. 2009. Analysis of sample size for variables related to plant, soil, and soil microbial respiration in a paddy rice field. Field Crops Research, 113(2): 125–130.

Diekmann L O, Lawrence D, Okin G S. 2007. Changes in the spatial variation of soil properties following shifting cultivation in a Mexican tropical dry forest. Biogeochemistry, 84(1): 99–113.

Gallardo A, Rodríguez-Saucedo J J, Covelo F, et al. 2000. Soil nitrogen heterogeneity in a Dehesa ecosystem. Plant and Soil, 222(1–2): 71–82.

Gallardo A. 2003. Spatial variability of soil properties in a floodplain forest in Northwest Spain. Ecosystem, 6(6): 564–576.

Garten C T Jr, Kang S, Brice D J, et al. 2007. Variability in soil properties at different spatial scales (1 m–1 km) in a deciduous forest ecosystem. Soil Biology and Biochemistry, 39(10): 2621–2627.

Goovaerts P. 1997. Geostatistics for Natural Resources Evaluation. New York: Oxford University Press.

Gross K L, Pregitzer K S, Burton A J. 1995. Spatial variation in nitrogen availability in three successional plant communities. Journal of Ecology, 83(3): 357–367.

Grunwald S, Rivero R L, Reddy K R. 2007a. Understanding spatial variability and its application to biogeochemistry analysis. Developments in Environmental Science, 5: 435–462.

Grunwald S, Reddy K R, Prenger J P, et al. 2007b. Modeling of the spatial variability of biogeochemical soil properties in a freshwater ecosystem. Ecological Modeling, 201(3–4): 521–535.

Grunwald S, Reddy K R. 2008. Spatial behavior of phosphorus and nitrogen in a subtropical wetland. Soil Science Society of America Journal, 72(4): 1174–1183.

Heim A, Wehrli L, Eugster W, et al. 2009. Effects of sampling design on the probability to detect soil carbon stock changes at the Swiss CarboEurope site Lägeren. Geoderma, 149(3–4): 347–354.

Holmes K W, Kyriakidis P C, Chadwick O A, et al. 2005. Multi-scale variability in tropical soil nutrients following land-cover change. Biogeochemistry, 74(2): 173–203.

Huston M A. 1998. Biological diversity. In: The Coexistence of Species in Changing Landscapes. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Jiang D M, Tang Y, Busso C A. 2014. Effects of vegetation cover on recruitment of Ulmus pumila L. in Horqin Sandy Land, northeastern China. Journal of Arid Land, 6(3): 343–351. 

Krasilnikov P, Carré F, Montanarella L. 2008. Soil Geography and Geostatistics, Concepts and Applications. Luxembourg: Institute for Environment and Sustainability.

Li S G, Harazono Y, Oikawa T, et al. 2000. Grassland desertification by grazing and the resulting micrometeorological changes in Inner Mongolia. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology, 102(2–3): 125–137.

Lin H S, Wheeler D, Bell J, et al. 2005. Assessment of soil spatial variability at multiple scales. Ecological Modelling, 182(3–4): 271–290.

López-Granados F, Jurado-Expósito M, Atenciano S, et al. 2002. Spatial variability of agricultural soil parameters in southern Spain. Plant and Soil, 246(1): 97–105.

Ovalle C, Del Pozo A, Casado M A, et al. 2006. Consequences of landscape heterogeneity on grassland diversity and productivity in the espinal agroforestry system of central Chile. Landscape Ecology, 21(4): 585–594.

Qian H, Ricklefs R E. 2000. Large-scale processes and the Asian bias in species diversity of temperate plants. Nature, 407(6801): 180–182.

R Development Core Team. 2008. R: A Language and Environment for Statistical Computing. Vienna: Foundation for Statistical Computing.

Ribeiro P J Jr, Diggle P J. 2001. GeoR: a package for geostatistical analysis. R-NEWS, 1(2): 15–18.

Soliveres S, Maestre F T. 2014. Plant–plant interactions, environmental gradients and plant diversity: a global synthesis of community-level studies. Perspectives in Plant Ecology, Evolution and Systematics 16(4): 154–163. 

Wang L X, Mou P P, Huang J H, et al. 2007. Spatial heterogeneity of soil nitrogen in a subtropical forest in china. Plant and Soil, 295(1–2): 137–150.

Webster R. 1985. Quantitative spatial analysis of soil in the field. In: Stewart B A. Advances in Soil Science. New York: Springer, 3: 1–70.

Webster R, Oliver M A. 2001. Geostatistics for Environmental Scientists. New York: John Wiley and Sons.
[1] CHEN Min, ZHAO Xueyong, ZUO Xiao’an, LIAN Jie, ZHU Yangchun. Floral traits and pollination system of Zygophyllum xanthoxylum in the managed and wild populations in an arid region of Northwest China[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2015, 7(4): 488-500.
[2] ChengChen PAN, LinDe LIU, HaLin ZHAO, JiLiang LIU, YueLi HOU, Li ZHANG. Reproduction of Hedysarum scoparium (Fabaceae) in patched habitat is pollen limited, but not just pollinator limited[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2012, 4(1): 19-28.
[3] DaoYuan ZHANG, HuiLiang LIU, Xiang SHI, JianCheng WANG, YongKuan ZHANG. Limitations on the recruitment of the rare sand shrubby legume Eremosparton songoricum (Fabaceae) in Gurbantunggut Desert, China[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2011, 3(2): 75-84.