Please wait a minute...
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;
Download: HTML     PDF(2255KB)
Export: BibTeX | EndNote (RIS)      


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:
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.

URL:     OR

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.
[1]   Abbas M S, Afefe A A, Hatab E B E, et al. 2016. Vegetation-soil relationships in wadi El-Rayan protected area, western desert, Egypt. Jordan Journal of Biological Sciences, 9(2):97-107.
[2]   Agarwal P, Dabi M, Kinhekar K, et al. 2020. Special adaptive features of plant species in response to salinity. In: Hasanuzzaman M, Tanveer M. Salt and Drought Stress Tolerance in Plants Signaling Networks and Adaptive Mechanisms. Switzerland: Springer, 53-76.
[3]   Allahgholi A, Asri Y . 2014. Changes in plant communities within the south east salt marshes of Orumieh Lake. Plant Ecophysiology, 5(15):74-87. (in Persian)
[4]   Apaydin Z, Kutbay H G, Ozbucak T, et al. 2009. Relationships between vegetation zonation and edaphic factors in a salt-marsh community (Black Sea Coast). Polish Journal of Ecology, 57(1):99-112.
[5]   Arevalo J R, Fernández-Lugo S, Reyes-Betancort J A, et al. 2017. Relationships between soil parameters and vegetation in abandoned terrace field vs. non-terraced fields in arid lands (Lanzarote, Spain): an opportunity for restoration. Acta Oecologica, 85:77-84.
[6]   Asrari A, Bakhshikhaniki G H, Rahmatizadeh A . 2012. Assessment of relationship between vegetation and salt soil in Qom Province. Iranian Journal of Range and Desert Research, 19(2):264-282. (in Persian)
[7]   Austin M P. 2005. Vegetation and environment: discontinuities and continuities. In: van der Maarel E. Vegetation Ecology. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 52-84.
[8]   Cao Q Q, Yang B M, Li J R, et al. 2020. Characteristics of soil water and salt associated with Tamarix ramosissima communities during normal and dry periods in a semi-arid saline environment. CATENA, 193:104661.
[9]   Carter M R, Gregorich E G. 2008. Soil Sampling Methods of Analysis (2nd ed.). Boca Raton: CRC Press, 1224.
[10]   Cochran W G. 1977. The estimation of sample size. In: Cochran W G. Sampling Techniques (3rd ed.). New York: John Wiley & Sons, 72-86.
[11]   Czyż E A, Dexter A R . 2015. Mechanical dispersion of clay from soil into water readily-dispersed and spontaneously-dispersed clay. International Agrophysics, 29(1):31-37.
[12]   de Martonne E . 1926. A new climatological function: the aridity index. La Météorologie, 2:449-458. (in French)
[13]   Flowers T J, Troke P, Yeo A R . 1977. The mechanism of salt tolerance in halophytes. Annual Review of Plant Physiology, 28(1):89-121.
[14]   Gonzalez-Alcaraz M N, Jimenez-Carceles F J, Alvarez Y, et al. 2014. Gradients of soil salinity and moisture, and plant distribution, in a Mediterranean semi-arid saline watershed: a model of soil-plant relationships for contributing to the management. CATENA, 115:150-158.
[15]   Greig-Smith P . 1983. Quantitative Plant Ecology (3 rd ed.) . Oxford: Blackwell Scientific Publications, 374.
[16]   Hejcmanovā-Neźerková P, Hejcman M . 2006. A canonical correspondence analysis (CCA) of the vegetation-environment relationships in Sudanese savannah, Senegal. The South African Journal of Botany, 72(2):256-262.
[17]   IMO. 2015. Iran Meteorological Organization Archive. [2015-09-20].
[18]   Kent M . 2011. Vegetation Description and Data Analysis: A Practical Approach. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 414.
[19]   Khatibi R, Soltani S, Khodagholi M . 2017. Effects of climatic factors and soil salinity on the distribution of vegetation types containing Anabasis aphylla in Iran: a multivariate factor analysis. Arabian Journal of Geosciences, 10(2):1-18.
[20]   Kleyer M, Dray S, Bello F, et al. 2012. Assessing species and community functional responses to environmental gradients: which multivariate methods? Journal of Vegetation Science, 23(5):805-821.
[21]   Koull N, Chehma A . 2016. Soil characteristics and plant distribution in saline wetlands of Oued Righ, northeastern Algeria. Journal of Arid Land, 8(6):948-959.
[22]   Magurran A E . 2004. Measuring Biological Diversity. Australia: Blackwell Science Ltd., 256.
[23]   Mokhtari-Asl A A F, Mesdaghi M, Akbarluo M, et al. 2008. Investigation on relationships between some soil characteristics and distribution of rangelands species (Case study: Eastern Azarbayjan-Marand Gherkhelar rangelands). Journal of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, 15(1):14-24. (in Persian)
[24]   Mueller-Dombois D, Ellenberg H . 1974. Aims and Methods of Vegetation Ecology. New York: Wiley & Son, 93-135.
[25]   Park H J, Hong M G, Kim J G . 2020. Effects of soil fertility and flooding regime on the growth of Ambrosia trifida. Landscape and Ecological Engineering, 16(1):39-46.
[26]   Piernik A. 2012. Ecological Pattern of Inland Salt Marsh Vegetation in Central Europe. Poland: Nicolas Copernicus University Press, 229.
[27]   Quevedo D I, Frances F . 2008. A conceptual dynamic vegetation-soil model for arid and semiarid zones. Hydrology and Earth System Sciences, 12(5):1175-1187.
[28]   Rengasamy P, Greene R, Ford G, et al. 1984. Identification of dispersive behaviour and the management of red-brown earths. Australian Journal of Soil Research, 22(4):413-431.
[29]   Sahragard H P, Chahouki M Z . 2015. An evaluation of predictive habitat models performance of plant species in Hoz-e Soltan rangelands of Qom Province. Ecological Modelling, 309:64-71.
[30]   Salama F, Ghani M A E, Tayeh N E . 2013. Vegetation and soil relationships in the inland wadi ecosystem of central Eastern Desert, Egypt. Turkish Journal of Botany, 37(3):489-498.
[31]   Salama F, Ghani M A E, Gadallah M, et al. 2016. Characteristics of desert vegetation along four transects in the arid environment of southern Egypt. Turkish Journal of Botany, 40(1):59-73.
[32]   Sheikhzadeh A, Bashari H, Tarkesh-Esfahani M, et al. 2019. Investigation of rangeland indicator species using parametric and non-parametric methods in hilly landscapes of central Iran. Journal of Mountain Science, 16(6):1408-1418.
[33]   Ter Braak C J F. 1985. Correspondence analysis of incidence and abundance data: properties in terms of a unimodal response model. Journal of Biometrics, 41(4):859-873.
[34]   Ungar I A . 1967. Vegetation-soil relationships on saline soils in Northern Kansas. American Midland Naturalist, 78(1):98-120.
[35]   Weaver R W, Angel J S, Bottomley P S . 1994. Methods of Soil Analysis: Microbiological and Biochemical Properties. Madison: Soil Society of America, 1152.
[36]   Yang F, An F H, Ma H, et al. 2016. Variations on soil salinity and sodicity and its driving factors analysis under microtopography in different hydrological conditions. Water, 8(6):227.
[37]   Zhang L W, Wang B C . 2016. Intraspecific interactions shift from competitive to facilitative across a low to high disturbance gradient in a salt marsh. Plant Ecology, 217(8):959-967.
[1] MA Jinpeng, PANG Danbo, HE Wenqiang, ZHANG Yaqi, WU Mengyao, LI Xuebin, CHEN Lin. Response of soil respiration to short-term changes in precipitation and nitrogen addition in a desert steppe[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2023, 15(9): 1084-1106.
[2] Orhan DENGİZ, İnci DEMİRAĞ TURAN. Soil quality assessment for desertification based on multi-indicators with the best-worst method in a semi-arid ecosystem[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2023, 15(7): 779-796.
[3] ZHAO Hongyan, YAN Changzhen, LI Sen, WANG Yahui. Remote sensing monitoring of the recent rapid increase in cultivation activities and its effects on desertification in the Mu Us Desert, China[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2023, 15(7): 812-826.
[4] QIANG Yuquan, ZHANG Jinchun, XU Xianying, LIU Hujun, DUAN Xiaofeng. Stem sap flow of Haloxylon ammodendron at different ages and its response to physical factors in the Minqin oasis-desert transition zone, China[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2023, 15(7): 842-857.
[5] ZHOU Chongpeng, GONG Lu, WU Xue, LUO Yan. Nutrient resorption and its influencing factors of typical desert plants in different habitats on the northern margin of the Tarim Basin, China[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2023, 15(7): 858-870.
[6] M'hammed BOUALLALA, Souad NEFFAR, Lyès BRADAI, Haroun CHENCHOUNI. Do aeolian deposits and sand encroachment intensity shape patterns of vegetation diversity and plant functional traits in desert pavements?[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2023, 15(6): 667-694.
[7] CHEN Yingying, LIN Yajun, ZHOU Xiaobing, ZHANG Jing, YANG Chunhong, ZHANG Yuanming. Effects of drought treatment on photosystem II activity in the ephemeral plant Erodium oxyrhinchum[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2023, 15(6): 724-739.
[8] LI Hongfang, WANG Jian, LIU Hu, MIAO Henglu, LIU Jianfeng. Responses of vegetation yield to precipitation and reference evapotranspiration in a desert steppe in Inner Mongolia, China[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2023, 15(4): 477-490.
[9] WANG Wang, CHEN Jiaqi, CHEN Jiansheng, WANG Tao, ZHAN Lucheng, ZHANG Yitong, MA Xiaohui. Contribution of groundwater to the formation of sand dunes in the Badain Jaran Desert, China[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2023, 15(11): 1340-1354.
[10] ZHAO Mengqi, SU Huan, HUANG Yin, Rashidin ABDUGHENI, MA Jinbiao, GAO Jiangtao, GUO Fei, LI Li. Plant growth-promoting properties and anti-fungal activity of endophytic bacterial strains isolated from Thymus altaicus and Salvia deserta in arid lands[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2023, 15(11): 1405-1420.
[11] Alamusa , SU Yuhang, YIN Jiawang, ZHOU Quanlai, WANG Yongcui. Effect of sand-fixing vegetation on the hydrological regulation function of sand dunes and its practical significance[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2023, 15(1): 52-62.
[12] YANG Xinguo, WANG Entian, QU Wenjie, WANG Lei. Biocrust-induced partitioning of soil water between grass and shrub in a desert steppe of Northwest China[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2023, 15(1): 63-76.
[13] CHEN Juan, WANG Xing, SONG Naiping, WANG Qixue, WU Xudong. Water utilization of typical plant communities in desert steppe, China[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2022, 14(9): 1038-1054.
[14] YANG Suchang, QU Zhun. Cost analysis of sand barriers in desertified regions based on the land grid division model[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2022, 14(9): 978-992.
[15] GAO Li, CHENG Jianjun, WANG Haifeng, YUAN Xinxin. Effects of different types of guardrails on sand transportation of desert highway pavement[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2022, 14(9): 993-1008.