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Journal of Arid Land  2016, Vol. 8 Issue (2): 304-313    DOI:
Research Articles     
Influence of tourist disturbance on soil properties, plant communities, and surface water quality in the Tianchi scenic area of Xinjiang, China
WEN Bin1,2,3,4, ZHANG Xiaolei1, YANG Zhaoping1*, XIONG Heigang2, QIU Yang5
1 Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Urumqi 830011, China;
2 College of Resource and Environment Sciences, Xinjiang University, Urumqi 830046, China;
3 University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China;
4 Department of Economic Management, Huanghuai University, Zhumadian 463000, China;
5 Cold and Arid Regions Environmental and Engineering Research Institute, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Lanzhou 730000, China
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Abstract  The impact of tourist disturbance on the environment has become a focal issue of environmental science, ecology, and travel management studies. To assess the influence of tourist disturbance on soils and plants in the Tianchi scenic area of Xinjiang, China, we compared soil properties and plant community characteristics at 0, 5, 10, and 20 m from the tourist trail within areas at three different altitudes, where the intensities of tourist disturbance are distinct. Surface water quality was also studied at three different levels relative to the Tianchi Lake. The results showed that tourist disturbance significantly increased soil pH within 10 m from the trail and soil bulk density on the edge of the trail, but significantly reduced soil organic matter and total nitrogen contents within 5 m from the trail. The number of tree seedlings on the edge of the trail and the shrub coverage and height of herbaceous plants within 5 m from the trail significantly decreased due to tourist disturbance. Changes in herbaceous plant diversity differed by soil zones. In the high altitude region, tourist disturbance led to a remarkable increase in the herbaceous plant diversity on the edge of the trail, while in the low altitude region, tourist disturbance had a low impact on the diversity of herbaceous plants. In addition, tourist activities polluted the surface water, significantly reducing water quality. Thus, current tourist activities have a significant negative impact on the ecological environment in the Tianchi scenic area.

Key wordseddy covariance      microclimate characteristics      CO2 flux      extremely arid region      desert wetland      Dunhuang     
Received: 18 June 2015      Published: 01 April 2016

This paper was sponsored by the Chinese Academy of Sciences Visiting Professorship for Senior International Scientists (2015VEA048), the National Natural Science Foundation of China (41301163, 41301204), the Project of Featured Major Tourism Management (HHXY2013LY), and the Doctoral Startup Funds from Huanghuai University (2013D1310).

Corresponding Authors: YANG Zhaoping     E-mail:
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WEN Bin, ZHANG Xiaolei, YANG Zhaoping, XIONG Heigang, QIU Yang. Influence of tourist disturbance on soil properties, plant communities, and surface water quality in the Tianchi scenic area of Xinjiang, China. Journal of Arid Land, 2016, 8(2): 304-313.

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