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Journal of Arid Land  2022, Vol. 14 Issue (5): 576-588    DOI: 10.1007/s40333-022-0095-8
Research article     
Grazing alters sandy soil greenhouse gas emissions in a sand-binding area of the Hobq Desert, China
WANG Bo, LI Yuwei(), BAO Yuhai
College of Geographical Science, Inner Mongolia Normal University, Hohhot 010010, China
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Deserts are sensitive to environmental changes caused by human interference and are prone to degradation. Revegetation can promote the reversal of desertification and the subsequent formation of fixed sand. However, the effects of grazing, which can cause the ground-surface conditions of fixed sand to further deteriorate and result in re-desertification, on the greenhouse gas (GHG) fluxes from soils remain unknown. Herein, we investigated GHG fluxes in the Hobq Desert, Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region of China, at the mobile (desertified), fixed (vegetated), and grazed (re-desertified) sites from January 2018 to December 2019. We analyzed the response mechanism of GHG fluxes to micrometeorological factors and the variation in global warming potential (GWP). CO2 was emitted at an average rate of 4.2, 3.7, and 1.1 mmol/(m2•h) and N2O was emitted at an average rate of 0.19, 0.15, and 0.09 µmol/(m2•h) at the grazed, fixed, and mobile sites, respectively. Mean CH4 consumption was as follows: fixed site (2.9 µmol/(m2•h))>grazed site (2.7 µmol/(m2•h))>mobile site (1.1 µmol/(m2•h)). GHG fluxes varied seasonally, and soil temperature (10 cm) and soil water content (30 cm) were the key micrometeorological factors affecting the fluxes. The changes in the plant and soil characteristics caused by grazing resulted in increased soil CO2 and N2O emissions and decreased CH4 absorption. Grazing also significantly increased the GWP of the soil (P<0.05). This study demonstrates that grazing on revegetated sandy soil can cause re-desertification and significantly increase soil carbon and nitrogen leakage. These findings could be used to formulate informed policies on the management and utilization of desert ecosystems.

Key wordsgrazing      revegetation      re-desertification      greenhouse gases      global warming potential      Hobq Desert     
Received: 11 February 2022      Published: 31 May 2022
Fund:  the Inner Mongolia Science and Technology Project of China(2022YFDZ0027);the Mongolia Basic Geographical Factors and Land Use/Cover Survey of China(2017FY101301-4)
Corresponding Authors: LI Yuwei     E-mail:
Cite this article:

WANG Bo, LI Yuwei, BAO Yuhai. Grazing alters sandy soil greenhouse gas emissions in a sand-binding area of the Hobq Desert, China. Journal of Arid Land, 2022, 14(5): 576-588.

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Site SOM (g/kg) TN (g/kg) TP (g/kg) AN (mg/kg) AP (mg/kg) Bulk density (g/cm3)
Mobile 0.65±0.32c 0.049±0.250b 0.37±0.02b 1.83±0.73c 2.34±0.16a 1.61±0.18a
Fixed 2.53±1.41a 0.099±0.054a 0.43±0.04a 3.19±1.45b 1.37±0.57c 1.48±0.11b
Grazed 0.79±0.41b 0.042±0.019b 0.36±0.04b 4.09±1.92a 2.13±0.79b 1.54±0.24a
Site Bacteria quantity (104/g) Actinobacteria quantity (104/g) Fungi quantity (104/g) Aboveground biomass (g/m2) Root biomass (g/m2)
Mobile 12.2±1.8c 6.8±0.5c 0.10±0.02c 2.4±0.5c 1.1±1.3c
Fixed 711.3±45.8a 102.6±34.2a 1.20±0.30a 566.7±255.4a 314.1±12.8a
Grazed 516.3±12.4b 47.8±3.8b 0.50±0.02b 226.9±100.3b 205.3±23.4b
Table 1 Vegetation biomass, soil physicochemical properties, and soil microorganisms at a soil depth of 0?20 cm
Fig. 1 Fluctuations of soil temperature (a and b) and soil water content (c and d) at the mobile, fixed, and grazed sites in the Hobq Desert in 2018 and 2019
Fig. 2 Fluctuations of CO2 (a and b), N2O (c and d), and CH4 (e and f) fluxes at the mobile, fixed, and grazed sites in the Hobq Desert in 2018 and 2019. The shaded area is the standard error of the five plots measured at each site.
Fig. 3 Mean, annual, and seasonal CO2 (a-c), N2O (d-f), and CH4 (g-i) fluxes at the mobile, fixed, and grazed sites in the Hobq Desert during 2018-2019. The boxes represent the range from the lower quantile (Q25) to the upper quantile (Q75). The dots and horizontal lines inside the boxes represent the means and medians, respectively. The dots outside the boxes represent outliers. The upper and lower whiskers indicate the maximum and minimum values, respectively. Different lowercase letters indicate significant differences in gas fluxes (P<0.05).
Fig. 4 Daily fluctuations of CO2 (a1-a3), N2O (b1-b3), and CH4 (c1-c3) fluxes at the mobile, fixed, and grazed sites in the Hobq Desert. Mean±SE.
Item Source of variation Sum of square df Mean square F value P value Partial η2
CO2 flux Sandy soil changes 174.062 2 87.031 31.247 0.000** 0.394
Season 590.847 3 196.949 70.711 0.000** 0.688
Sandy soil changes×Season 132.654 6 22.109 7.938 0.000** 0.332
N2O flux Sandy soil change 0.231 2 0.115 2.523 0.086 0.050
Season 0.581 3 0.194 4.234 0.007** 0.117
Sandy soil changes×Season 0.504 6 0.084 1.838 0.100 0.103
CH4 flux Sandy soil change 73.567 2 36.783 48.401 0.000** 0.502
Season 48.889 3 16.296 21.443 0.000** 0.401
Sandy soil changes×Season 20.070 6 3.345 4.401 0.001** 0.216
Table 2 Effects of sandy soil changes, season, and their interaction on CO2, N2O, and CH4 fluxes
Fig. 5 Cumulative emissions of CO2, N2O, and CH4 (a) and global warming potential (GWP, b) at the mobile, fixed, and grazed sites in the Hobq Desert. Different lowercase letters indicate significant differences among the three sites (P<0.05). Mean±SE.
Fig. 6 Results of Pearson's linear correlation analysis between GHG fluxes (CO2, N2O, and CH4 fluxes) and micrometeorological factors at the mobile, fixed, and grazing sites. The numbers in the boxes are the Pearson correlation coefficients. PAR, Photosynthetic active radiation; HS, humidity of surface; HA, humidity of air; SWC-30, soil water content at 30 cm depth; SWC-20, soil water content at 20 cm depth; SWC-10, soil water content at 10 cm depth; T-30, soil temperature at 30 cm depth; T-20, soil temperature at 20 cm depth; T-10, soil temperature at 10 cm depth; T-surface, surface temperature; T-air, air temperature.
Fig. 7 Redundancy analysis of GHG fluxes and micrometeorological factors during the growing season (a), non-growing season (b), and whole year (c)
Location Land type Precipitation (mm) Temperature (°C) CO2 emissions N2O emissions CH4 absorption Reference
China Semi-arid grassland 460 2.8 Reduced Unchanged Reduced Wang et al. (2003)
China Desert grassland 372 7.3 Increased Unchanged Reduced Zhou et al. (2011)
China Desert steppe 350 7.5 Reduced Increased Increased Shi et al. (2017)
Canada Temperate grassland 970 6.2 Unchanged Unchanged Reduced Chai et al. (2015)
Australia Tropical typical steppe 750 12.5 Reduced Increased Increased Howden et al. (1994)
Hungary Semi-natural grassland 500 10.5 Reduced Unchanged Reduced Soussana et al. (2007)
France Temperate grassland 1310 8.0 Reduced Reduced Reduced Soussana et al. (2007)
China Fixed sandy land 317 8.3 Increased Increased Reduced This study
Table 3 Comparison of the effects of grazing on CO2, N2O, and CH4 fluxes of different land use types
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