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Journal of Arid Land  2014, Vol. 6 Issue (3): 334-342    DOI: 10.1007/s40333-013-0221-8
Research Articles     
Scale dependence of plant species richness and vegetation-environment relationship along a gradient of dune stabilization in Horqin Sandy Land, Northern China
XiaoAn ZUO1,2*, ShaoKun WANG1,2, XueYong ZHAO1,2, Jie LIAN1,2
1 Naiman Desertification Research Station, Cold and Arid Regions Environmental and Engineering Research Institute, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Lanzhou 730000, China
2 Laboratory of Stress Ecophysiology and Biotechnology, Cold and Arid Regions Environmental and Engineering Research Institute, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Lanzhou 730000, China
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Abstract  Ecological patterns and processes in dune ecosystems have been a research focus in recent years, however the information on how dune stabilization influences the spatial scale dependence of plant diversity is still lacking. In this study, we measured the plant species richness, soil properties and altitude across four spatial scales (1, 10, 100 and 1,000 m2) at three different dune stabilization stages (mobile dune, semi-fixed dune and fixed dune) in Horqin Sandy Land, Northern China. We also examined the relationships between plant species richness, community composition and environmental factors along the gradient of dune stabilization. Our results showed that plant species richness increased with the increase of spatial scales in each dune stabilization stage, as well as with the increase of dune stabilization degrees. Canonical correspondence analysis (CCA) showed that plant distributions in the processes of dune stabilization were determined by the combined environmental gradient in relation to soil organic carbon (SOC), total nitrogen (TN), carbon/nitrogen (C/N), pH, electrical conductivity (EC), soil water content (SWC), fine sand (FS), very fine sand (VFS), silt and clay (SC), and altitude. Plant species richness was significantly and positively correlated to SOC and TN in mobile dune, and significantly and positively correlated to SOC, TN, C/N, VFS and SC in semi-fixed dune. However, no significant correlation between plant species richness and environmental factors was observed in fixed dune. In addition, plant species richness in different dune stabilization stages was also determined by the combined gradient of soil properties and altitude. These results suggest that plant species richness has obvious scale dependence along the gradient of dune stabilization. Soil resources depending on dune habitats and environmental gradients caused by dune stabilization are important factors to de-termine the scale dependence of species diversity in sand dune ecosystems.

Key wordsdisturbed lands      dumps      waste storage      heavy metals      accumulation      migration      East Kazakhstan     
Received: 07 March 2013      Published: 10 June 2014

National Natural Science Foundation of China (41171414), the Knowledge In-novation Program of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (KZCX2-EW-QN313), the Chinese Academy of Sciences Vis-iting Professorships for Senior International Scientists (2011T2Z36), the Key Project of Scientific and Technical Sup-porting Programs (2011BAC07B02-09), and the National Basic Research Program of China (2009CB421303).

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XiaoAn ZUO, ShaoKun WANG, XueYong ZHAO, Jie LIAN. Scale dependence of plant species richness and vegetation-environment relationship along a gradient of dune stabilization in Horqin Sandy Land, Northern China. Journal of Arid Land, 2014, 6(3): 334-342.

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