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Journal of Arid Land  2015, Vol. 7 Issue (1): 73-81    DOI: 10.1007/s40333-014-0037-1
Research Articles     
A preliminary study of water use strategy of desert plants in Dunhuang, China
YongQin CUI1, JianYing MA1, 2*, Wei SUN3, JiaHuan SUN1, ZhengHu DUAN1
1 Cold and Arid Regions Environmental and Engineering Research Institute, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Lanzhou 730000, China;
2 Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Urumqi 830011, China;
3 Institute of Grassland Science, Key Laboratory of Vegetation Ecology, Ministry of Education, Northeast Normal University, Changchun 130024, China
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Abstract  Water is a restrictive factor for plant growth and ecosystem stability in arid and semiarid areas. The dynamics of water availability in soils and water use by plants are consequently critical to ecosystem functions, e.g. maintaining a high resistance to the changing climate. Plant water use strategies, including water-use efficiency (WUE) and the main water source that a plant species utilizes, play an important role in the evaluation of stability and sustainability of a plantation. The water use strategies of desert plants (Tamarix chinensis, Alhagi sparsifolia, Elaeagnus angustifolia, Sophora alopecuroides, Bassia dasyphylla and Nitraria sphaerocarpa) in three different habitats (saline land, sandy land and Gobi) in Dunhuang (located in the typical arid area of northwestern China) were studied. The stable isotope of oxygen was used to determine the main water source and leaf carbon isotope discrimination was used to estimate the long-term WUE of plant species in the summer of 2010. The results suggest that: 1) the studied desert plants took up soil water below the depth of 80 cm; 2) T. chinensis in the three habitats used deeper soil water and T. chinensis in the Gobi site had higher WUE than those in the saline land and the sandy land. The results indicated that desert plants in Dunhuang depended on stable water source and maintained high WUE to survive in water limited environments.

Key wordsk-nearest neighbor      Mahalanobis      most similar neighbor      MODIS BRDF-adjusted reflectance      forest inventory      the policy of Reducing Emission from Deforestation and Forest Degradation     
Received: 27 February 2014      Published: 10 February 2015

The research was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (41071032; 31270445), the Program for New Century Excellent Talents in University (NCET-12-084), the Thousand Talents Program of China (2013) and the West Light Foundation of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (2009).

Corresponding Authors: JianYing MA     E-mail:
Cite this article:

YongQin CUI, JianYing MA, Wei SUN, JiaHuan SUN, ZhengHu DUAN. A preliminary study of water use strategy of desert plants in Dunhuang, China. Journal of Arid Land, 2015, 7(1): 73-81.

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