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Journal of Arid Land  2014, Vol. 6 Issue (5): 581-591    DOI: 10.1007/s40333-014-0029-1
Research Articles     
What makes Haloxylon persicum grow on sand dunes while H. ammodendron grows on interdune lowlands: a proof from reciprocal transplant experiments
GuiQing XU, DanDan YU, JiangBo XIE, LiSong TANG, Yan LI
State Key Laboratory of Desert and Oasis Ecology, Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Urumqi 830011, China
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Abstract  Determining the mechanisms underlying the spatial distribution of plant species is one of the central themes in biogeography and ecology. However, we are still far from gaining a full understanding of the autecological processes needed to unravel species distribution patterns. In the current study, by comparing seedling recruitment, seedling morphological performance and biomass allocation of two Haloxylon species, we try to identify the causes of the dune/interdune distribution pattern of these two species. Our results show the soil on the dune had less nutrients but was less saline than that of the interdune; with prolonged summer drought, soil water availability was lower on the dune than on the interdune. Both species had higher densities of seedlings at every stage of recruitment in their native habitat than the adjacent habitat. The contrasting different adaptation to nutrients, salinity and soil water conditions in the seedling recruitment stage strongly determined the distribution patterns of the two species on the dune/interdune. Haloxylon persicum on the dunes had lower total dry biomass, shoot and root dry biomass, but allocated a higher percentage of its biomass to roots and possessed a higher specific root length and specific root area by phenotypic traits specialization than that of Haloxylon ammodendron on the interdune. All of these allowed H. persicum to be more adapted to water stress and nutrient shortage. The differences in morphology and allocation facilitated the ability of these two species to persist in their own environments.

Key wordsarid and semiarid zones      elm      seed dispersal      seed germination      seedling survival     
Received: 12 October 2013      Published: 12 October 2014

The study was supported by the Western Light Program of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (XBBS¬201001), the National Natural Science Foundation of China (40971042, 41371079) and the International Science & Technology Cooperation Program of China (2010DFA92720).

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GuiQing XU, DanDan YU, JiangBo XIE, LiSong TANG, Yan LI. What makes Haloxylon persicum grow on sand dunes while H. ammodendron grows on interdune lowlands: a proof from reciprocal transplant experiments. Journal of Arid Land, 2014, 6(5): 581-591.

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