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Journal of Arid Land  2014, Vol. 6 Issue (6): 742-752    DOI: 10.1007/s40333-014-0032-6.
Research Articles     
Effects of artificially cultivated biological soil crusts on soil nutrients and biological activities in the Loess Plateau
YanMin ZHAO1, QingKe ZHU1*, Ping LI2, LeiLei ZHAO3, LuLu WANG4, XueLiang ZHENG5, Huan MA1
1 College of Water and Soil Conservation, Beijing Forestry University, Beijing 100083, China;
2 Key Laboratory of Forest Ecology and Environment State Forestry Administration, Research Institute of Forest Ecology, Envi-ronment and Protection, Chinese Academy of Forestry, Beijing 100091, China;
3 Kunming Forest Exploration & Design Institute of State Forestry Agency, Kunming 650216, China;
4 Anhui Survey and Design Institute for Water Resources and Hydropower, Hefei 230088, China;
5 Planning and Design Institute of Forest Products Industry, State Forestry Administration, Beijing 100013, China
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Abstract  Biological soil crusts (BSCs) play an important role in the early succession of vegetation restoration in the Loess Plateau, China. To evaluate the effects of artificially cultivated BSCs on the soil surface micro-environment, we obtained natural moss crusts and moss-lichen crusts from the Loess Plateau of Shaanxi province, and subsequently inoculated and cultivated on horizontal and sloping surfaces of loess soil in a greenhouse. The chemical and biological properties of the subsoil under cultivated BSCs were determined after 10 weeks of cultivation. The results indicated that BSCs coverage was more than 65% after 10 weeks of cultivation. Moss crust coverage reached 40% after 5 weeks of cultivation. Compared with the control, soil organic matter and available nitrogen contents in moss crust with the horizontal treatments increased by 100.87% and 48.23%, respectively; increased by 67.56% and 52.17% with the sloping treatments, respectively; they also increased in moss-lichen crust with horizontal and sloping treatments, but there was no significant difference. Available phosphorus in cultivated BSCs was reduced, soil pH was lower and cationic exchange capacity was higher in cultivated BSCs than in the control. Alkaline phosphatase, urease and invertase activities were increased in artificially cultivated BSCs, and alkaline phosphatase activity in all cultivated BSCs was obviously higher than that in the control. Numbers of soil bacteria, fungi and actinomycetes were increased in the formation process of cultivated BSCs. These results indicate that BSCs could be formed rapidly in short-term cultivation and improve the mi-cro-environment of soil surface, which provides a scientific reference for vegetation restoration and ecological reconstruction in the Loess Plateau, China.

Key wordshydrophobicity      soil-air-water contact angle      capillary rise method      Nitraria tangutorun nebkhas      vegetation succession stage     
Received: 09 December 2013      Published: 10 December 2014

This study was funded by Forestry Industry Research Special Funds for Public Welfare Projects (201104002-2), and China National Scientific and Technical Innovation Research Project for 12th Five Year Planning (2011BAD38b06).

Corresponding Authors: QingKe ZHU     E-mail:
Cite this article:

YanMin ZHAO, QingKe ZHU, Ping LI, LeiLei ZHAO, LuLu WANG, XueLiang ZHENG, Huan MA. Effects of artificially cultivated biological soil crusts on soil nutrients and biological activities in the Loess Plateau. Journal of Arid Land, 2014, 6(6): 742-752.

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