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Journal of Arid Land  2014, Vol. 6 Issue (2): 136-144    DOI: 10.1007/s40333-013-0200-0
Research Articles     
Spatial pattern of soil organic carbon in desert grasslands of the diluvial-alluvial plains of northern Qilian Mountains
Rong YANG1,2,3, YongZhong SU1,2,3, Min WANG1,2,3, Tao WANG3*, Xiao YANG1,2,3, GuiPing FAN1,2,3, TianChang WU1,2,3
1 Linze Inland River Basin Research Station, Chinese Ecosystem Research Network, Lanzhou 730000, China;
2 Key Laboratory of Eco-hydrology in Inland River Basin, Lanzhou 730000, China;
3 Cold and Arid Regions Environmental and Engineering Research Institute, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Lanzhou 730000, China
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Abstract  The soil properties in arid ecosystems are important determinants of vegetation distribution patterns. Soil organic carbon (SOC) content, which is closely related to soil types and the holding capacities of soil water and nutrients, exhibits complex variability in arid desert grasslands; thus, it is essentially an impact factor for the distri-bution pattern of desert grasslands. In the present study, an investigation was conducted to estimate the spatial pattern of SOC content in desert grasslands and the association with environmental factors in the diluvial-alluvial plains of northern Qilian Mountains. The results showed that the mean values of SOC ranged from 2.76 to 5.80 g/kg in the soil profiles, and decreased with soil depths. The coefficients of variation (CV) of the SOC were high (ranging from 48.83% to 94.67%), which indicated a strong spatial variability. SOC in the desert grasslands of the study re-gion presented a regular spatial distribution, which increased gradually from the northwest to the southeast. The SOC distribution had a pattern linked to elevation, which may be related to the gradient of climate conditions. Soil type and plant community significantly affected the SOC. The SOC had a significant positive relationship with soil moisture (P<0.05); whereas, it had a more significant negative relationship with the soil bulk density (BD) (P<0.01). However, a number of the variations in the SOC could be explained not by the environmental factors involved in this analysis, but rather other factors (such as grazing activity and landscape). The results provide important references for soil carbon storage estimation in this study region. In addition, the SOC association with environmental variables also provides a basis for a sustainable use of the limited grassland resources in the diluvial-alluvial plains of north-ern Qilian Mountains.

Received: 23 January 2013      Published: 10 April 2014

This study was funded by the Strategic Priority Research Program of the Chinese Academy of Sciences(XDA05050406-3) and the National Natural Science Foundation of China (41201284 and 91125022).

Corresponding Authors: Tao WANG     E-mail:
Cite this article:

Rong YANG, YongZhong SU, Min WANG, Tao WANG, Xiao YANG, GuiPing FAN, TianChang WU. Spatial pattern of soil organic carbon in desert grasslands of the diluvial-alluvial plains of northern Qilian Mountains. Journal of Arid Land, 2014, 6(2): 136-144.

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