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Journal of Arid Land  2020, Vol. 12 Issue (4): 640-652    DOI: 10.1007/s40333-020-0013-x
Research article     
Prioritizing woody species for the rehabilitation of arid lands in western Iran based on soil properties and carbon sequestration
BAZGIR Masoud1,*(), OMIDIPOUR Reza2, HEYDARI Mehdi3, ZAINALI Nasim3, HAMIDI Masoud1, C DEY Daniel4
1 Department of Water and Soil Engineering, Faculty of Agriculture, Ilam University, Ilam 6939177111, Iran
2 Department of Range and Watershed Management, Faculty of Natural Resource and Earth Science, Shahrekord University, Shahrekord 8818634141, Iran
3 Department of Forestry, Faculty of Agriculture, Ilam University, Ilam 6939177111, Iran
4 US Forest Service, Northern Research Station, Columbia, OM 65211, USA
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Plants are an important component in many natural ecosystems. They influence soil properties, especially in arid ecosystems. The selection of plant species based on their adaptations to site conditions is essential for rehabilitation of degraded sites and other construction sites such as check-dams. Other factors to be considered in species selection include their effects on soil properties and their abilities to meet other management objectives. The purpose of this study was to assess the effects of native (Populus euphratica Oliv. and Tamarix ramosissima Ledeb.) and introduced (Eucalyptus camaldulensis Dehnh. and Prosopis juliflora (Swartz) DC.) woody species on soil properties and carbon sequestration (CS) in an arid region of Iran. Soil sampling was collected at three soil depths (0-10, 10-20 and 20-30 cm) at the sites located under each woody species canopy and in an open area in 2017. Soil physical-chemical property was analyzed in the laboratory. The presence of a woody species changed soil characteristics and soil CS, compared with the open area. For example, the presence of a woody species caused a decrease in soil bulk density, of which the lowest value was observed under E. camaldulensis (1.38 g/cm3) compared with the open area (1.59 g/cm3). Also, all woody species significantly increased the contents of soil organic matter and total nitrogen, and introduced species had more significant effect than native species. The results showed that CS significantly increased under the canopy of all woody species in a decreasing order of P. euphratica (9.08 t/hm2)>E. camaldulensis (8.37 t/hm2)>P. juliflora (5.20 t/hm2)>T. ramosissima (2.93 t/hm2)>open area (1.33 t/hm2), thus demonstrating the positive effect of a woody species on CS. Although the plantation of non-native species had some positive effects on soil properties, we recommend increasing species diversity in plantations of native and introduced woody species to provide more diversity for the increased ecosystem services, resilience, health and long-term productivity.

Key wordsarid ecosystem      carbon sequestration      degraded soil      restoration      reforestation      soil management     
Received: 02 September 2019      Published: 10 July 2020
Corresponding Authors: BAZGIR Masoud     E-mail:
About author: *Corresponding author: Masoud BAZGIR (E-mail:
Cite this article:

Masoud BAZGIR, Reza OMIDIPOUR, Mehdi HEYDARI, Nasim ZAINALI, Masoud HAMIDI, Daniel C DEY. Prioritizing woody species for the rehabilitation of arid lands in western Iran based on soil properties and carbon sequestration. Journal of Arid Land, 2020, 12(4): 640-652.

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Fig. 1 Location of the study area in Ilam Province, Iran
Fig. 2 Mean monthly precipitation and monthly mean temperature in the study area
DBH (cm) Canopy cover (m2) Height (m) Age (a) Woody species Forest type
15.4±0.8 12.6±1.3 4.0±0.4 25-27 P. juliflora Introduced species
13.5±0.5 5.1±1.4 9.7±0.7 25-27 E. camaldulensis
3.2±0.3 3.5±0.2 2.7±0.2 - T. ramosissima Native species
10.5±0.2 7.8±1.7 3.2±0.4 - P. euphratica
Table 1 Stand characteristics of woody species in the study area
Soil property Variable Species Depth Species×Depth
X2 P-value X2 P-value X2 P-value
Physical BD 16.70 0.0020 54.470 <0.0001 6.12 0.1910
n 16.42 0.0020 54.530 <0.0001 6.07 0.1930
SP 294.42 <0.0001 3.380 0.0657 1.41 0.8420
FC 126.08 <0.0001 6.240 0.0120 4.33 0.3620
PWP 74.15 <0.0001 2.770 0.0950 1.96 0.7460
Chemical pH 515.88 <0.0001 6.190 0.0120 20.50 <0.0001
EC 200.20 <0.0001 17.020 <0.0001 12.65 0.0130
OM 510.44 <0.0001 14.560 <0.0001 4.33 0.3620
TN 217.21 <0.0001 127.570 <0.0001 42.44 <0.0001
AP 6.48 0.1660 1.290 0.2560 6.90 0.1410
Ca 1365.01 <0.0001 1069.000 0.0010 9.80 0.0430
Mg 1232.08 <0.0001 6.270 0.0120 23.79 <0.0001
CEC 519.64 <0.0001 0.003 0.9520 8.50 0.0740
TDS 361.12 <0.0001 30.070 <0.0001 11.69 0.0190
CS 612.13 <0.0001 0.770 0.3800 2.64 0.6190
Table 2 Results from generalized linear mixed-effects (Chi-square values and P-values) model with a Poisson family distribution for the effects of species, depth and their interaction on soil properties
Fig. 3 Soil physical properties (a-e) under native (Tamarix ramosissima and Populus euphratica) and introduced (Eucalyptus camaldulensis and Prosopis juliflora) woody species and in the open area (control). Different lowercase letters indicate significant difference among different soil depths at P<0.05 level, and different uppercase letters indicate significant difference between woody species and the open area at P<0.05 level.
Fig. 4 Soil chemical properties (a-h) and carbon sequestration (CS, i) under native (Tamarix ramosissima and Populus euphratica) and introduced (Eucalyptus camaldulensis and Prosopis juliflora) woody species and in the open area (control). Different lowercase letters indicate significant difference among different soil depths at P<0.05 level, and different capital letters indicate significant differences between woody species and the open area at P<0.05 level. EC, electrical conductivity; OM, organic matter; TN, total nitrogen; Ca, exchangeable calcium; Mg, exchangeable magnesium; CEC, cation exchangeable capacity; TDS, total dissolved salts.
Treatment Independent variable Final model r R2 P-value
Control* - - - - -
E. camaldulensis FC -0.419(FC)+13.111 0.604 0.365 0.037
P. juliflora Mg, n -0.092(n)+9.4369 0.733 0.537 0.007
T. ramosissima* - - - - -
P. euphratica FC, SP 0.736(FC)-1.826 0.731 0.535 0.007
Overall data TN, Mg, TDS, CEC, PWP 69.149(TN)+2.282(TDS)-0.075(Mg)+0.506 0.918 0.842 0.000
Table 3 Results of multiple regressions between soil carbon sequestration and different physical and chemical soil properties in each treatment separately and for the combined data
Fig. 5 First two dimensions nonmetric multidimensional scaling (NMDS) ordinations based on the Bray-Curtis dissimilarity matrices of soil physical and chemical properties. BD, bulk density; n, porosity; SP, saturation percentage; FC, filed capacity; EC, electrical conductivity; PWP, permanent wilting point; OM, organic matter; TN, total nitrogen; AP, available phosphorus; Ca, exchangeable calcium; Mg, exchangeable magnesium; CEC, cation exchangeable capacity; TDS, total dissolved salts; CS, carbon sequestration; Ta, T. ramosissima; Po, P. euphratica; Eu, E. camaldulensis; Pr, P. juliflora.
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