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Journal of Arid Land  2021, Vol. 13 Issue (2): 123-134    DOI: 10.1007/s40333-021-0003-7
Research article     
Interactions between vegetation dynamic and edaphic factors in the Great Salt Desert of central Iran
Hossein BASHARI1,*(), SeyedMehrdad KAZEMI1, Soghra POODINEH1, Mohammad R MOSADDEGHI2, Mostafa TARKESH1, SeyedMehdi ADNANI3
1Department of Natural Resources, Isfahan University of Technology, Isfahan 8415683111, Iran
2Department of Soil Science, College of Agriculture, Isfahan University of Technology, Isfahan 8415683111, Iran
3Forests and Rangelands Research Department, Qom Agricultural and Natural Resources Research and Education Center, Agricultural Research, Education and Extension Organization (AREEO), Qom 3716184729, Iran;
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Investigating the relationships between vegetation dynamic and edaphic factors provide management insights into factors affecting the growth and establishment of plant species and vegetation communities in saline areas. The aim of this study was to assess the spatial variability of various vegetation communities in relation to edaphic factors in the Great Salt Desert, central Iran. Fifteen vegetation communities were identified using the physiognomy-floristic method. Coverage and density of vegetation communities were determined using the transect plot method. Forty soil samples were collected from major horizons of fifteen profiles in vegetation communities, and analyzed in terms of following soil physical and chemical characteristics: soil texture, soluble Na + concentration, sodium adsorption ratio (SAR), electrical conductivity (EC), pH, organic matter content, soluble Mg 2+ and Ca 2+ concentrations, carbonate and gypsum contents, and spontaneously- and mechanically-dispersible clay contents. Redundancy analysis was used to investigate the relationships between vegetation dynamic and edaphic factors. The generalized linear method (GLM) was used to find the plant species response curves against edaphic factors. Results showed that plant species responded differently to edaphic factors, in which soluble sodium concentration, EC, SAR, gypsum content and soil texture were identified as the most discriminative edaphic factors. The studied plant species were also found to have different ecological requirements and tolerance to edaphic factors, in which Tamarix aphylla and Halocnemum strobilaceum were identified as the most salt-resistant species in the region. Furthermore, the presence of Artemisia sieberi was highly related to soil sand and gypsum contents. The results implied that exploring the plant species response curves against edaphic factors can assist managers to lay out more appropriate restoration plans in similar arid areas.

Key wordsdesert      generalized linear method      mechanically-dispersible clay      ordination      plant species response curves      spontaneously-dispersible clay     
Received: 15 April 2019      Published: 10 February 2021
Corresponding Authors: Hossein BASHARI     E-mail:
About author: Hossein BASHARI (E-mail:
Cite this article:

Hossein BASHARI, SeyedMehrdad KAZEMI, Soghra POODINEH, Mohammad R MOSADDEGHI, Mostafa TARKESH, SeyedMehdi ADNANI. Interactions between vegetation dynamic and edaphic factors in the Great Salt Desert of central Iran. Journal of Arid Land, 2021, 13(2): 123-134.

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Fig. 1 Location of the study area (a) and sampling sites (b) in the Great Salt Desert, central Iran
4 3 2 1 Axis
0.27 0.46 0.90 1.00 Eigenvalue
2.21 1.69 2.52 0.40 Length of gradient
78.60 70.50 56.60 29.70 Cumulative variance of plant species (%)
0.00 0.00 54.80 33.70 Cumulative variance of soils (%)
Table 1 Results of DCA (detrended correspondence analysis) of vegetation coverage and edaphic factors in the Great Salt Desert, central Iran
Number Vegetation community Site Elevation (m) Vegetation coverage (%) Plant density (stands/hm2)
S1 Phragmites australis-Halocnemum strobilaceum Hoz-e Soltan 818 6.5 33,000
S2 Halocnemum strobilaceum-Tamarix aphylla Moreh 822 10.8 2300
S3 Alhaji mannifera-Seidlitzia rosmarinus Hoz-e Soltan 822 61.1 21,000
S4 Tamarix aphylla-Halocnemum strobilaceum Moreh 824 2.6 3000
S5 Tamarix aphylla Masileh 831 5.8 2000
S6 Artemisia sieberi-Stipagrostis plumosa Moreh 850 2.8 10,000
S7 Artemisia sieberi Hoz-e Soltan 855 3.4 6000
S8 Halostachys caspica-Halocnemum strobilaceum Hoz-e Soltan 817 11.5 4000
S9 Halocnemum strobilaceum Hoz-e Soltan 819 30.7 10,000
S10 Halocnemum strobilaceum-Seidlitzia rosmarinus Hoz-e Soltan 820 32.9 8600
S11 Halocnemum strobilaceum-Tamarix aphylla Moreh 800 3.4 2100
S12 Tamarix aphylla Hoz-e Soltan 847 68.1 2900
S13 Tamarix aphylla-Seidlitzia rosmarinus Masileh 840 7.6 700
S14 Artemisia sieberi Masileh 855 4.7 9000
S15 Halocnemum strobilaceum Masileh 819 6.9 3000
Table 2 Elevation, vegetation coverage and plant density of different vegetation communities in the Great Salt Desert, central Iran
Table 3 Soil physical and chemical properties of different vegetation communities in the Great Salt Desert, central Iran
Fig. 2 Redundancy analysis (RDA) orientation diagram of different vegetation communities with environmental variables. EC, electrical conductivity; SAR, sodium adsorption ratio; OM, organic matter; SDC, spontaneously-dispersible clay; MDC, mechanically-dispersible clay; CCE, calcium carbonate equivalent. Mg2+, magmatism; Na+, sodium; Ca2+, calcium. S1-S15 represent the fifteen vegetation communities.
Index Sand Silt Clay OM CCE Gyp EC pH SAR Na+ Ca2+ Mg2+ SDC MDC
Sand 1.00
Silt -0.88* 1.00
Clay -0.30* 0.00 1.00
OM 0.02 0.04 0.00 1.00
CCE *-0.20 0.20 0.38 *-0.36 1.00
Gyp 0.28 -0.15 -0.30 -0.08 0.14 1.00
EC *-0.42 0.40 0.10 -0.30 *-0.50 -0.30 1.00
pH *-0.37 -0.54* 0.30 0.10 0.25 *-0.80 0.60* 1.00
SAR -0.23 -0.16 0.67* -0.23 -0.27 -0.30 0.50 0.22 1.00
Na+ *-0.40 0.29 0.26 -0.32 *-0.40 -0.24 0.90* *0.43 0.65* 1.00
Ca2+ -0.20 0.51* *-0.60 -0.17 *-0.38 -0.06 0.60* 0.90* -0.29 *0.43 1.00
Mg2+ *-0.41 0.61* -0.30 -0.13 -0.50 -0.10 0.70* 0.88* -0.22 0.62* 0.78* 1.00
SDC *-0.54 0.01 -0.40* -0.07 -0.70* -0.57* 0.19 *0.54 0.50* 0.22 *0.40 0.19 1.00
MDC *-0.52 0.11 -0.10* 0.06 -0.84* -0.64* -0.25 *0.31 0.50* *0.33 0.03 0.20 0.61* 1.00
Table 4 Correlation coefficients between edaphic factors through RDA
Fig. 3 Relationships of spontaneously-dispersible clay (SDC, a) content and mechanically-dispersible clay (MDC, b) content with calcium carbonate equivalent (CCE)
Fig. 4 Cluster analysis based on vegetation coverage in the Great Salt Desert, central Iran
Fig. 5 Plant species response curves from generalized linear model (GLM) relating coverage of vegetation communities to edaphic factors. Ta.ap, Tamarix aphylla;, Halocnemum strobilacum;, Seidlitzia rosmarinus;, Artemisia sieberi.
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