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Journal of Arid Land  2016, Vol. 8 Issue (6): 960-973    DOI: 10.1007/s40333-016-0096-6
Research Articles     
Soil properties and herbaceous characteristics in an age sequence of Haloxylon ammodendron plantations in an oasis-desert ecotone of northwestern China
ZHANG Ke1,2, SU Yongzhong1, WANG Ting1,2, LIU Tingna1
1 Linze Inland River Basin Research Station, Cold and Arid Regions Environmental and Engineering Research Institute, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Lanzhou 730000, China;
2 University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
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Abstract  Haloxylon ammodendron, a typical desert shrub with C4 pathway of photosynthesis, possessing a strong ability to adapt to an extreme drought environment, has a rapid growth rate in sandy lands and is widely used in sand-fixing shelter-forest systems in oasis-desert ecotones. To assess the effects of H. ammodendron plantation on the soil, we measured soil properties and herbaceous characteristics along a nearly 40-year chronosequence after H. ammodendron was planted in shifting sand dunes in an oasis-desert ecotone. Results showed that silt and clay fractions increased significantly in the topsoil. The accumulation rates of soil organic carbon (SOC), total nitrogen (TN) and total phosphorus (TP) were faster in the early stages (0–9 years) and slower in the late stages (9–39 years). The soil pH and electrical conductivity (EC) were higher than those in the non-vegetation dunes. Moreover, the soil properties in the topsoil (0–5 cm) showed larger variation scope than those in the deeper soil layers (5–20 cm). The significant relationships of the soil silt+clay content with the chemical properties mainly appeared in the topsoil. The wind erosion susceptibility of the soil, evaluated by erodible fraction (EF), decreased significantly with increasing H. ammodendron plantation age. Additionally, the annual pioneer herb, Agriophyllum squarrosum, was gradually substituted by the annual salt-tolerant herb, Bassia dasyphylla, with increasing plantation age. These results showed beneficial effects of H. ammodendron plantation on improving soil conditions. However, the dynamics of the herbaceous species also reminded us that the long-term effects of H. ammodendron plantation, especially on changes in vegetation composition, still need further evaluation.

Key wordsSalix psammophila      Caragana korshinskii      hydraulic vulnerability      xylem anatomy      hydraulic safety margin     
Received: 09 November 2015      Published: 01 December 2016

This research was funded by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (41401337).

Corresponding Authors: SU Yongzhong     E-mail:
Cite this article:

ZHANG Ke, SU Yongzhong, WANG Ting, LIU Tingna. Soil properties and herbaceous characteristics in an age sequence of Haloxylon ammodendron plantations in an oasis-desert ecotone of northwestern China. Journal of Arid Land, 2016, 8(6): 960-973.

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