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Journal of Arid Land  2023, Vol. 15 Issue (3): 297-309    DOI: 10.1007/s40333-023-0008-5
Research article     
Investigation on biological activities for combating desertification in the western shores of Lake Urmia, Northwest Iran
1Forestry Department, Faculty of Natural Resources, Urmia University, Urmia 165, Iran
2Watershed and Rangeland Department, Faculty of Natural Resources, Urmia University, Urmia 165, Iran
3Department of Forest Engineering, Forest Management Planning and Terrestrial Measurements, Faculty of Silviculture and Forest Engineering, Transilvania University of Brasov, Brasov 500123, Romania
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Lake Urmia, Northwest Iran, has confronted a drying procedure in recent years with losing 90% of its water body. The authorities concerned about desertification processes and possible dust events throughout the region. In this regard, the Iranian Natural Resources and Watershed Management Organization has taken ecological measures to plant vegetation using salt cedar (Tamarix ramosissima Ledeb.) shrubs to combat desertification. This study aimed to investigate the vegetation and soil characteristics of natural and plantation stands of salt cedar on the western shores of Lake Urmia. To this end, 7 transects were randomly selected with 15 shrubs in natural stands, and 7 transects were randomly selected with 15 shrubs in the plantation parts along the planting rows. Then, vegetative characteristics were examined. Also, soil samples were taken from the vicinity of the shrubs. The results indicated that there was no significant difference between the mean diameter at breast height (DBH) of salt cedar in natural sites. There was a significant difference between the mean number of sprouts per sprout-clumps, mean crown diameter, collar diameter, total height, and also between mean crown diameter and freshness of shrubs among different sites (P<0.05). It was also found that soil variables, such as clay content, organic matter, electrical conductivity (EC), Na+, specific absorption rate (SAR), Cl-, SO2- 4, Na+, K+, and PO2- 4 are the most significant variable parameters between studied sites. As the results shown, the values of EC, SAR, Na+, and Cl- are 6 times higher in the planted stands than in the natural stands of T. ramosissima. Also, the colonization of T. ramosissima in the planted stands is unsuccessful by dramatic drop in the total height and average diameter. Considering the role of soil characteristics in explaining the variance of data and site separation, it seems that these indicators can be applied in executive plans as important indicators to identify suitable planting sites for combating desertification.

Key wordssalinity resistance      soil      vegetative characteristics      Tamarix      Lake Urmia     
Received: 14 September 2022      Published: 31 March 2023
Corresponding Authors: * Ahmad ALIJANPOUR (E-mail:
Cite this article:

Samire ROSTAMI, Ahmad ALIJANPOUR, Abbas BANJ SHAFIEI, Hesam AHMADY-BIRGANI, Hadi BEYGI HEIDARLOU. Investigation on biological activities for combating desertification in the western shores of Lake Urmia, Northwest Iran. Journal of Arid Land, 2023, 15(3): 297-309.

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Fig. 1 Geographical location of studied area and sampling stands of T. ramosissima
Fig. 2 DBH (diameter at breast height; a) and collar diameter (b) of T. ramosissima in natural and planted stands. Different lowercase letters above the bars indicate significant difference among different stands at α=0.05 level. Bars are standard errors.
Indicator Sum of square df Mean square F Sig.
Between stands 6395.45 3 2131.81 66.25 0.00
Within stands 12,131.05 377 32.17
Error 18,526.50 380
Table 1 ANOVA analysis of number of sprouts in studied stands
Fig. 3 Comparison the mean number of sprouts (a) and its frequency (b) of T. ramosissima in natural and planted stands. Different lowercase letters above the bars indicate significant difference among different stands at α=0.05 level. Bars are standard errors.
Indicator Kruskal-Wallis df Significance
Mean crown diameter 139.56 3 0.00
Collar diameter 79.04 3 0.00
Total height 147.45 3 0.00
Table 2 Result of the Kruskal-Wallis test for studied quantitative characteristics
Indicator Stand Region Frequency
(m or cm)
Total height Natural Osalu 105 2.03±0.08a 4185.50
Goltapeh 105 1.64±0.06b
Planted Seporghan 90 1.04±0.02c 3143.50
Jabalkandi 81 1.00±0.03c
Collar diameter Natural Osalu 105 3.51±0.21a 4715.50
Goltapeh 105 3.04±0.18a
Planted Seporghan 90 1.63±0.05a 3204.50
Jabalkandi 81 1.86±0.10a
Mean crown diameter Natural Osalu 105 204.00±10.86a 4253.50
Goltapeh 105 162.80±8.75b
Planted Seporghan 90 84.20±2.99c 1487.00
Jabalkandi 24 74.42±4.25c
Table 3 Comparison of the mean quantitative characteristics of natural and planted stands
Fig. 4 Crown diameter (a) and total height (b) of T. ramosissima in natural and planted stands. Different lowercase letters above the bars indicate significant difference among different stands at α=0.05 level.
Fig. 5 Freshness class of T. rmosissima in natural and planted stands. Different lowercase letters above the bars indicate significant difference among different stands at α=0.05 level. Bars are standard errors.
Fig. 6 Soil texture of T. rmosissima in natural and planted stands. Different lowercase letters within the same soil particle indicate significant differences among different stands at α=0.05 level. Bars are standard errors.
Indicator Osalu natural stand Seporghan planted stand Goltapeh natural stand Jabalkandi planted stand
EC (μS/cm) 37,157.70±6759.92b 92,214.78±7795.73a 12,317.14±1352.32c 52,307.54+5421.14b
pH 7.00b 7.00b 7.00a 7.00a
SAR 57.30±3.73b 114.90±9.61a 10.85±1.51c 58.71±4.86b
SOC 0.70±0.15b 0.64±0.11b 8.46±0.88a 1.39±0.07b
Bicarbonate (meq/L) 25.71±2.97a 24.28±2.02 a 13.85±0.67b 11.42±1.32b
Cl- (mmol/L) 272.52±52.22c 634.47±47.60a 73.92±10.94d 457.46±46.50b
SO2- 4 (mmol/L) 66.10± 10.70b 93.87±7.92a 40.75±4.28c 72.10±10.18ab
NO- 3 (mmol/L) 0.20±0.02b 0.35±0.07b 0.65±0.19b 1.41±0.24a
PO2- 4 (mmol/L) 0.07±0.01b 0.02±0.00c 0.12±0.01a 0.08±0.01ab
Na+ (mmol/L) 308.40±44.45b 804.78±78.82a 58.90±9.64c 379.33±33.54b
K+ (mmol/L) 3.40±2.12b 12.94±0.74 a 3.00±0.20b 6.15±0.58b
Ca2+ (mmol/L) 25.71±5.28b 41.42±4.59a 29.00±1.79ab 30.00±4.87ab
Mg2+ (mmol/L) 40.00±12.34ab 62.85±13.92a 28.00±2.15b 59.28±10.76ab
Table 4 Soil chemical properties of the studied stands
Fig. 7 PCA (principal component analysis) of soil parameters in the studied stands. TPJ, Jabalkandi planted stand; TPS, Seporghan planted stand; TNO, Osalu natural stand; TNG, Goltapeh natural stand. EC, electrical conductivity; SAR, specific absorption rate; SOC, soil organic carbon.
Axis Eigenvalue Percentage of variance (%) Percentage of cumulative variance (%) Broken-stick
1 7.783 48.60 48.64 3.381 0.001
2 2.799 17.49 66.14 2.381 0.001
3 1.547 9.67 75.80 1.881 1.000
4 0.910 5.67 81.49 1.547 1.000
5 0.773 4.83 86.32 1.297 1.000
6 0.541 3.38 89.71 1.097 1.000
7 0.446 2.77 92.49 0.931 1.000
8 0.378 2.36 94.85 0.788 1.000
9 0.328 2.05 96.90 0.663 1.000
10 0.231 1.44 98.34 0.552 1.000
Table 5 Result of principal component analysis (PCA)
Parameter Axis 1 Axis 2
Clay 0.460* 0.230
Silt 0.004 0.080
Sand 0.370 0.410*
SOC 0.570** 0.050
EC 0.890** 0.070
pH 0.410 0.000
SAR 0.810** 0.004
HCO- 3 0.180 0.530**
Cl- 0.820** 0.130
SO2- 4 0.680** 0.040
Ca2+ 0.250 0.180
Mg2+ 0.320 0.320
Na+ 0.890** 0.030
K+ 0.640** 0.020
NO- 3 0.004 0.610**
PO2- 4 0.406* 0.130
Table 6 Pearson correlation coefficients between PCA ordination axes and soil parameters
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