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Journal of Arid Land  2017, Vol. 9 Issue (3): 355-367    DOI: 10.1007/s40333-017-0055-x
Orginal Article     
Characteristics of soil seed banks at different geomorphic positions within the longitudinal sand dunes of the Gurbantunggut Desert, China
Fengqin JIA1,2,3, TIYIP Tashpolat2, Nan WU1, Changyan TIAN1, Yuanming ZHANG1,*
1 Key Laboratory of Biogeography and Bioresources in Arid Land, Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Urumqi 830011, China
2 Key Laboratory of Oasis Ecology/Resources and Environment Department, Xinjiang University, Urumqi 830046, China
3 Tourism College, Urumqi Vocational University, Urumqi 830002, China
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Understanding the characteristics of soil seed banks in sand dunes is crucial to stabilize the dune systems and maintain the plant populations in deserts. In this study, we conducted a survey investigation in the field and a seed germination experiment in the laboratory to explore the characteristics of soil seed banks at various geomorphic positions of longitudinal sand dunes in the Gurbantunggut Desert, China. Totally, 17 plant species belonging to 17 genera and 9 families were identified in soil seed banks, and 35 plant species belonging to 34 genera and 17 families were identified in aboveground vegetation. Plant species richness in soil seed banks decreased with increasing soil depth. The highest species richness was presented in the upper slope of the windward slope and the lowest species richness was presented in the base of the windward slope. There was no significant difference in seed density of soil seed banks among the examined seven geomorphic positions. The highest seed density occurred in the lower slope of the leeward slope while the lowest occurred in the crest. Moreover, seed density decreased with increasing soil depth, being the highest in the upper soil layer (0-2 cm). For both soil seed banks and aboveground vegetation, there was no significant difference in Simpson’s diversity index among the seven geomorphic positions; however, Shannon-Wiener diversity index and Pielou’s evenness index showed significant differences among the seven geomorphic positions. Those results showed that although there was no significant difference in seed density of soil seed banks among the seven geomorphic positions, the geomorphic positions significantly affected the species richness, diversity and distribution of soil seed banks. Therefore, understanding the characteristics of soil seed banks at different geomorphic positions of sand dunes is essential to vegetation restoration or reestablishment. Furthermore, the Jaccard’s similarity coefficients of plant species between soil seed banks and aboveground vegetation at the seven geomorphic positions were low, suggesting that vegetation restoration or reestablishment processes should be promoted through adding seeds to surface layers.

Key wordssoil seed banks      geomorphic position      seed density      species diversity      sand dunes      Gurbantunggut Desert     
Received: 08 August 2016      Published: 11 May 2017
Corresponding Authors: Yuanming ZHANG   
Cite this article:

Fengqin JIA, TIYIP Tashpolat, Nan WU, Changyan TIAN, Yuanming ZHANG. Characteristics of soil seed banks at different geomorphic positions within the longitudinal sand dunes of the Gurbantunggut Desert, China. Journal of Arid Land, 2017, 9(3): 355-367.

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