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Spatial-temporal changes and driving factors of eco- environmental quality in the Three-North region of China
LONG Yi, JIANG Fugen, DENG Muli, WANG Tianhong, SUN Hua
Journal of Arid Land    2023, 15 (3): 231-252.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-023-0053-0
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Eco-environmental quality is a measure of the suitability of the ecological environment for human survival and socioeconomic development. Understanding the spatial-temporal distribution and variation trend of eco-environmental quality is essential for environmental protection and ecological balance. The remote sensing ecological index (RSEI) can quickly and objectively quantify eco-environmental quality and has been extensively utilized in regional ecological environment assessment. In this paper, Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) images during the growing period (July-September) from 2000 to 2020 were obtained from the Google Earth Engine (GEE) platform to calculate the RSEI in the three northern regions of China (the Three-North region). The Theil-Sen median trend method combined with the Mann-Kendall test was used to analyze the spatial-temporal variation trend of eco-environmental quality, and the Hurst exponent and the Theil-Sen median trend were superimposed to predict the future evolution trend of eco-environmental quality. In addition, ten variables from two categories of natural and anthropogenic factors were analyzed to determine the drivers of the spatial differentiation of eco-environmental quality by the geographical detector. The results showed that from 2000 to 2020, the RSEI in the Three-North region exhibited obvious regional characteristics: the RSEI values in Northwest China were generally between 0.2 and 0.4; the RSEI values in North China gradually increased from north to south, ranging from 0.2 to 0.8; and the RSEI values in Northeast China were mostly above 0.6. The average RSEI value in the Three-North region increased at an average growth rate of 0.0016/a, showing the spatial distribution characteristics of overall improvement and local degradation in eco-environmental quality, of which the areas with improved, basically stable and degraded eco-environmental quality accounted for 65.39%, 26.82% and 7.79% of the total study area, respectively. The Hurst exponent of the RSEI ranged from 0.20 to 0.76 and the future trend of eco-environmental quality was generally consistent with the trend over the past 21 years. However, the areas exhibiting an improvement trend in eco-environmental quality mainly had weak persistence, and there was a possibility of degradation in eco-environmental quality without strengthening ecological protection. Average relative humidity, accumulated precipitation and land use type were the dominant factors driving the spatial distribution of eco-environmental quality in the Three-North region, and two-factor interaction also had a greater influence on eco-environmental quality than single factors. The explanatory power of meteorological factors on the spatial distribution of eco-environmental quality was stronger than that of topographic factors. The effect of anthropogenic factors (such as population density and land use type) on eco-environmental quality gradually increased over time. This study can serve as a reference to protect the ecological environment in arid and semi-arid regions.

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Exploration of playa surface crusts in Qehan Lake, China through field investigation and wind tunnel experiments
LIU Dongwei, HAN Lijing, KOU Zihan, GAO Xinyu, WANG Jingjing
Journal of Arid Land    2023, 15 (5): 491-507.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-023-0055-y
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Globally, many lakes are drying up, leaving exposed lakebeds where wind erosion releases dust and sand rich in salt and harmful heavy metals into the atmosphere. Therefore, understanding the characteristics and spatial distribution of playa surface crusts is important to recognize the manifestation of salt dust storms. The objective of this study was to explore the playa surface crust types as well as their spatial distribution and evolution of Qehan Lake in Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, China to understand the salt dust release potential of different types of playa surface crusts. Various crust characteristics were investigated by field sampling in Qehan Lake, and playa surface crusts were further divided into five types: vegetated areas, salt crusts, clay flats, curly crusts, and margins. It should be noted that curly crusts were distributed in clay flats and covered only a small area in Qehan Lake. The spatial distribution characteristics of playa surface crust types were obtained by supervised classification of remote sensing images, and the salt dust release potential of crusts was explored by the wind tunnel experiments. The field investigation of Qehan Lake revealed that playa surface crust types had a circum-lake band distribution from the inside to the outside of this lake, which were successively vegetated areas, clay flats, salt crusts, and margins. The spatial distribution patterns of playa surface crust types were mainly controlled by the hydrodynamics of the playa, soil texture, and groundwater. There was a significant negative correlation between crust thickness and electrical conductivity. The results of the wind tunnel experiments showed that the initial threshold of friction wind velocity for the salt dust release was higher in clay flats (0.7-0.8 m/s) than in salt crusts (0.5-0.6 m/s). Moreover, the particle leap impact processes occurring under natural conditions may reduce this threshold value. Salinity was the main factor controlling the difference in the initial threshold of friction wind velocity for the salt dust release of clay flats and salt crusts. This study provides a scientific reference for understanding how salt dust is released from a lakebed, which may be used for ecological restoration of dry salt lakes.

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Projection of precipitation extremes over South Asia from CMIP6 GCMs
Adnan ABBAS, Asher S BHATTI, Safi ULLAH, Waheed ULLAH, Muhammad WASEEM, ZHAO Chengyi, DOU Xin, Gohar ALI
Journal of Arid Land    2023, 15 (3): 274-296.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-023-0050-3
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Extreme precipitation events are one of the most dangerous hydrometeorological disasters, often resulting in significant human and socio-economic losses worldwide. It is therefore important to use current global climate models to project future changes in precipitation extremes. The present study aims to assess the future changes in precipitation extremes over South Asia from the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 6 (CMIP6) Global Climate Models (GCMs). The results were derived using the modified Mann-Kendall test, Sen's slope estimator, student's t-test, and probability density function approach. Eight extreme precipitation indices were assessed, including wet days (RR1mm), heavy precipitation days (RR10mm), very heavy precipitation days (RR20mm), severe precipitation days (RR50mm), consecutive wet days (CWD), consecutive dry days (CDD), maximum 5-day precipitation amount (RX5day), and simple daily intensity index (SDII). The future changes were estimated in two time periods for the 21st century (i.e., near future (NF; 2021-2060) and far future (FF; 2061-2100)) under two Shared Socioeconomic Pathway (SSP) scenarios (SSP2-4.5 and SSP5-8.5). The results suggest increases in the frequency and intensity of extreme precipitation indices under the SSP5-8.5 scenario towards the end of the 21st century (2061-2100). Moreover, from the results of multimodel ensemble means (MMEMs), extreme precipitation indices of RR1mm, RR10mm, RR20mm, CWD, and SDII demonstrate remarkable increases in the FF period under the SSP5-8.5 scenario. The spatial distribution of extreme precipitation indices shows intensification over the eastern part of South Asia compared to the western part. The probability density function of extreme precipitation indices suggests a frequent (intense) occurrence of precipitation extremes in the FF period under the SSP5-8.5 scenario, with values up to 35.00 d for RR1mm and 25.00-35.00 d for CWD. The potential impacts of heavy precipitation can pose serious challenges to the study area regarding flooding, soil erosion, water resource management, food security, and agriculture development.

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Reclamation during oasification is conducive to the accumulation of the soil organic carbon pool in arid land
YANG Yuxin, GONG Lu, TANG Junhu
Journal of Arid Land    2023, 15 (3): 344-358.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-023-0093-5
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Soil organic carbon (SOC) and its stable isotope composition reflect key information about the carbon cycle in ecosystems. Studies of carbon fractions in oasis continuous cotton-cropped fields can elucidate the SOC stability mechanism under the action of the human-land relationship during the oasification of arid land, which is critical for understanding the carbon dynamics of terrestrial ecosystems in arid lands under global climate change. In this study, we investigated the Alar Reclamation Area on the northern edge of the Tarim Basin, Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region of China, in 2020. In original desert and oasis farmlands with different reclamation years, including 6, 10, 18, and 30 a, and different soil depths (0-20, 20-40, 40-60 cm), we analyzed the variations in SOC, very liable carbon (CVL), liable carbon (CL), less liable carbon (CLL), and non-liable carbon (CNL) using the method of spatial series. The differences in the stable carbon isotope ratio (δ13C) and beta (β) values reflecting the organic carbon decomposition rate were also determined during oasification. Through redundancy analysis, we derived and discussed the relationships among SOC, carbon fractions, δ13C, and other soil physicochemical properties, such as the soil water content (SWC), bulk density (BD), pH, total salt (TS), total nitrogen (TN), available phosphorus (AP), and available potassium (AK). The results showed that there were significant differences in SOC and carbon fractions of oasis farmlands with different reclamation years, and the highest SOC was observed at the oasis farmland with 30-a reclamation year. CVL, CL, CLL, and CNL showed significant changes among oasis farmlands with different reclamation years, and CVL had the largest variation range (0.40-4.92 g/kg) and accounted for the largest proportion in the organic carbon pool. The proportion of CNL in the organic carbon pool of the topsoil (0-20 cm) gradually increased. δ13C varied from -25.61‰ to -22.58‰, with the topsoil showing the most positive value at the oasis farmland with 10-a reclamation year; while the β value was the lowest at the oasis farmland with 6-a reclamation year and then increased significantly. Based on the redundancy analysis results, the soil physicochemical properties, such as TN, AP, AK, and pH, were significantly correlated with CL, and TN and AP were positively correlated with CVL. However, δ13C was not significantly influenced by soil physicochemical properties. Our analysis advances the understanding of SOC dynamics during oasification, revealing the risk of soil carbon loss and its contribution to terrestrial carbon accumulation in arid lands, which could be useful for the sustainable development of regional carbon resources and ecological protection in arid ecosystem.

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Morphological and physiological responses to drought stress of carob trees in Mediterranean ecosystems
Khouloud ZAGOUB, Khouloud KRICHEN, Mohamed CHAIEB, Lobna F MNIF
Journal of Arid Land    2023, 15 (5): 562-577.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-023-0011-x
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The greatest failure rate of reforestation programs is basically related to water deficit, especially at the seedling stage. Therefore, the main objective of this work is to investigate the responses of three accessions of carob trees (Ceratonia siliqua L.) with 2-year-old from different climate regions to drought generated by four water treatments: Tc (250 mm), T1 (180 mm), T2 (100 mm), and T3 (50 mm). The first accession (A1) comes from the protected national park of Ichkeul in northern Tunisia. This zone belongs to the bioclimatic sub-humid stage. The second accession (A2) comes from Melloulech, located in the center-east of Tunisia, belonging to the bioclimatic semi-arid stage. The third accession (A3) comes from the mountain of Matmata, located in the south of Tunisia, belonging to the bioclimatic hyper-arid stage. The experiment was undertaken in a greenhouse. Gaz exchange indices (net photosynthesis (A), stomatal conductance (gs), transpiration rate (E), and internal CO2 concentration (Ci)) were determined. Predawn (Ψpd) and midday (Ψmd) leaf water potentials, relative soil water content (SWC), and morphological parameters (plant height (H), number of leaves (NL), number of leaflets (Nl), and number of branches (NB)) were estimated. The results showed that significant differences (P<0.001) were found between physiological and morphological parameters of each accession. The highest growth potential was recorded for Tc treatment in both accessions A1 and A2. Significant decreases in gs, E, Ci, and SWC were recorded with the increases in water stress applied from treatment T1 to T3. Positive and significant correlations were found between SWC and Ψpd for all studied accessions. Ψpd and Ψmd decreased as water stress increased, ranging from -0.96 to -1.50 MPa at sunrise and from -1.94 to -2.83 MPa at midday, respectively, under control and T3 treatments. C. siliqua accessions responded to drought through exhibiting significant changes in their physiological and morphological behavior. Both accessions A1 and A2 showed greater drought tolerance than accession A3. These seedlings exhibit different adaptive mechanisms such as stress avoidance, which are aimed at reducing transpiration, limiting leaf growth, and increasing root growth to exploit more soil water. Therefore, C. siliqua can be recommended for the ecological restoration in Mediterranean ecosystems.

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Seasonal variations in glacier velocity in the High Mountain Asia region during 2015-2020
ZHANG Zhen, XU Yangyang, LIU Shiyin, DING Jing, ZHAO Jinbiao
Journal of Arid Land    2023, 15 (6): 637-648.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-023-0016-5
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Velocity is an important component of glacier dynamics and directly reflects the response of glaciers to climate change. As a result, an accurate determination of seasonal variation in glacier velocity is very important in understanding the annual variation in glacier dynamics. However, few studies of glacier velocity in the High Mountain Asia (HMA) region were done. Along these lines, in this work, based on Sentinel-1 glacier velocity data, the distribution of glacier velocity in the HMA region was plotted and their seasonal variations during 2015-2020 were systematically analysed. The average glacier velocity in the HMA region was 0.053 m/d, and was positively correlated with the glacier area and slope. Glaciers in the Karakoram Mountains had the fastest average flow velocity (0.060 m/d), where the glaciers exhibited the largest average area and average slope. Moreover, glaciers in the Gangdisê Mountains had the slowest velocity (0.022 m/d) and the smallest average glacier area. The glacier flows were the fastest in spring (0.058 m/d), followed by summer (0.050 m/d), autumn (0.041 m/d), and winter (0.040 m/d). In addition, the glacier flows were the maximum in May, being 1.4 times of the annual average velocity. In some areas, such as the Qilian, Altun, Tibetan Interior, Eastern Kunlun, and Western Kunlun mountains, the peak glacier velocities appeared in June and July. The glacier velocity in the HMA region decreased in midsummer and reached the minimum in December when it was 75% of the annual average. These results highlight the role of meltwater in the seasonal variation in glacier flows in late spring and early summer. The seasonal velocity variation of lake-terminating glaciers was similar to that of land-terminating ones, but the former flowed faster. The velocity difference close to the mass balance line between the lake- and land-terminating glaciers was obviously greater in spring than in other seasons. In summer, the difference between the lake- and land-terminating glaciers at a normalized distance of 0.05-0.40 from the terminus was significantly greater than those of other seasons. The velocity difference between the lake- and land-terminating glaciers is closely related to the variable of ice thickness, and also to the frictional force of the terminal base reduced by proglacial lakes. Thus, it can be concluded that in addition to the variation of the glacier thickness and viscosity, the variation of glacier water input also plays a key role in the seasonal variation of glacier velocity.

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Improved drought tolerance in Festuca ovina L. using plant growth promoting bacteria
Fateme RIGI, Morteza SABERI, Mahdieh EBRAHIMI
Journal of Arid Land    2023, 15 (6): 740-755.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-023-0015-6
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Numerous ecological factors influence a plant's ability to live and grow, in which dryness is a substantial constraint on plant growth in arid and semi-arid areas. In response to a specific environmental stress, plants can use the most effective bacteria to support and facilitate their growth and development. Today, plant growth promoting rhizobacteria (PGPR) is widely used to reduce drought stress on plant growth. In this study, the effects of drought on Festuca ovina L. germination, growth, and nutrient absorption were investigated using PGPR in a factorial test with a completely random design under four water regimes. Soil water content was kept at 100% FC (field capacity), 70% FC (FC), 50% FC, and 30% FC. The treatments were inoculated with Azotobacter vinelandii, Pantoea agglomerans+Pseudomonas putida, and a mixture of bio-fertilizers. Results showed that the effects of drought stress were significantly reduced (P<0.05) when A. vinelandii and P. agglomerans+P. putida were used separately, however, the combined treatment of bio-fertilizers had a greater influence on seed germination than the single application. P. agglomerans+P. putida under 30% FC condition resulted in higher increases in stem, root length, and plant dry biomass. The highest uptake of nutrients was observed for the combined treatment of bio-fertilizers under 30% FC condition. Therefore, the use of A. vinelandii and P. agglomerans+P. putida, applied separately or combined, increased tolerance to drought stress in F. ovina by increased germination indices, dry weight, stem length, and root length. Because of the beneficial effects of PGPR on the growth characteristics of plants under drought conditions and the reduction of negative effects of drought stress, inoculating F. ovina seeds with Azotobacter and Pseudomonas is recommended to improve their growth and development characteristics under drought conditions. PGPR, as an affordable and environmentally friendly method, can improve the production of forage in water-stress rangelands.

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Modelling the dead fuel moisture content in a grassland of Ergun City, China
CHANG Chang, CHANG Yu, GUO Meng, HU Yuanman
Journal of Arid Land    2023, 15 (6): 710-723.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-023-0103-7
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The dead fuel moisture content (DFMC) is the key driver leading to fire occurrence. Accurately estimating the DFMC could help identify locations facing fire risks, prioritise areas for fire monitoring, and facilitate timely deployment of fire-suppression resources. In this study, the DFMC and environmental variables, including air temperature, relative humidity, wind speed, solar radiation, rainfall, atmospheric pressure, soil temperature, and soil humidity, were simultaneously measured in a grassland of Ergun City, Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region of China in 2021. We chose three regression models, i.e., random forest (RF) model, extreme gradient boosting (XGB) model, and boosted regression tree (BRT) model, to model the seasonal DFMC according to the data collected. To ensure accuracy, we added time-lag variables of 3 d to the models. The results showed that the RF model had the best fitting effect with an R2 value of 0.847 and a prediction accuracy with a mean absolute error score of 4.764% among the three models. The accuracies of the models in spring and autumn were higher than those in the other two seasons. In addition, different seasons had different key influencing factors, and the degree of influence of these factors on the DFMC changed with time lags. Moreover, time-lag variables within 44 h clearly improved the fitting effect and prediction accuracy, indicating that environmental conditions within approximately 48 h greatly influence the DFMC. This study highlights the importance of considering 48 h time-lagged variables when predicting the DFMC of grassland fuels and mapping grassland fire risks based on the DFMC to help locate high-priority areas for grassland fire monitoring and prevention.

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Combination of artificial zeolite and microbial fertilizer to improve mining soils in an arid area of Inner Mongolia, China
LI Wenye, ZHANG Jianfeng, SONG Shuangshuang, LIANG Yao, SUN Baoping, WU Yi, MAO Xiao, LIN Yachao
Journal of Arid Land    2023, 15 (9): 1067-1083.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-023-0028-1
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Restoration of mining soils is important to the vegetation and environment. This study aimed to explore the variations in soil nutrient contents, microbial abundance, and biomass under different gradients of substrate amendments in mining soils to select effective measures. Soil samples were collected from the Bayan Obo mining region in Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, China. Contents of soil organic matter (SOM), available nitrogen (AN), available phosphorus (AP), available potassium (AK), microbial biomass carbon/microbial biomass nitrogen (MBC/MBN) ratio, biomass, and bacteria, fungi, and actinomycetes abundance were assessed in Agropyron cristatum L. Gaertn., Elymus dahuricus Turcz., and Medicago sativa L. soils with artificial zeolite (AZ) and microbial fertilizer (MF) applied at T0 (0 g/kg), T1 (5 g/kg), T2 (10 g/kg), and T3 (20 g/kg). Redundancy analysis (RDA) and technique for order preference by similarity to ideal solution (TOPSIS) were used to identify the main factors controlling the variation of biomass. Results showed that chemical indices and microbial content of restored soils were far greater than those of control. The application of AZ significantly increases SOM, AN, and AP by 20.27%, 23.61%, and 40.43%, respectively. AZ significantly increased bacteria, fungi, and actinomycetes abundance by 0.63, 3.12, and 1.93 times of control, respectively. RDA indicated that AN, MBC/MBN ratio, and SOM were dominant predictors for biomass across samples with AZ application, explaining 87.6% of the biomass variance. SOM, MBC/MBN ratio, and AK were dominant predictors with MF application, explaining 82.9% of the biomass variance. TOPSIS indicated that T2 was the best dosage and the three plant species could all be used to repair mining soils. AZ and MF application at T2 concentration in the mining soils with M. sativa was found to be the most appropriate measure.

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Review and prospect of soil compound erosion
YANG Wenqian, ZHANG Gangfeng, YANG Huimin, LIN Degen, SHI Peijun
Journal of Arid Land    2023, 15 (9): 1007-1022.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-023-0107-3
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Soil erosion is one of the most serious environmental issues constraining the sustainable development of human society and economies. Soil compound erosion is the result of the alternation or interaction between two or more erosion forces. In recent years, fluctuations and extreme changes in climatic factors (air temperature, precipitation, wind speed, etc.) have led to an increase in the intensity and extent of compound erosion, which is increasingly considered in soil erosion research. First, depending on the involvement of gravity, compound erosion process can be divided into compound erosion with and without gravity. We systematically summarized the research on the mechanisms and processes of alternating or interacting soil erosion forces (wind, water, and freeze-thaw) considering different combinations, combed the characteristics of compound erosion in three typical regions, namely, high-elevation areas, high-latitude areas, and dry and wet transition regions, and reviewed soil compound erosion research methods, such as station observations, simulation experiments, prediction models, and artificial neural networks. The soil erosion model of wind, water, and freeze-thaw interaction is the most significant method for quantifying and predicting compound erosion. Furthermore, it is proposed that there are several issues such as unclear internal mechanisms, lack of comprehensive prediction models, and insufficient scale conversion methods in soil compound erosion research. It is also suggested that future soil compound erosion mechanism research should prioritize the coupling of compound erosion forces and climate change.

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Distribution patterns of fire regime in the Pendjari Biosphere Reserve, West Africa
Omobayo G ZOFFOUN, Chabi A M S DJAGOUN, Etotépé A SOGBOHOSSOU
Journal of Arid Land    2023, 15 (10): 1160-1173.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-023-0027-2
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Pendjari Biosphere Reserve (PBR), a primary component of the W-Arly-Pendjari transboundary biosphere reserve, represents the largest intact wild ecosystem and pristine biodiversity spot in West Africa. This savannah ecosystem has long been affected by fire, which is the main ecological driver for the annual rhythm of life in the reserve. Understanding the fire distribution patterns will help to improve its management plan in the region. This study explores the fire regime in the PRB during 2001-2021 in terms of burned area, seasonality, fire frequency, and mean fire return interval (MFRI) by analysing moderate resolution imaging spectroradiometer (MODIS) burned area product. Results indicated that the fire season in the PBR extends from October to May with a peak in early dry season (November-December). The last two fire seasons (2019-2020 and 2020-2021) recorded the highest areas burned in the PBR out of the twenty fire seasons studied. During the twenty years period, 8.2% of the reserve burned every 10-11 months and 11.5% burned annually. The largest part of the reserve burned every one to two years (63.1%), while 8.3% burned every two to four years, 5.8% burned every four to ten years, and 1.9% burned every ten to twenty years. Only 1.3% of the entire area did not fire during the whole study period. Fire returned to a particular site every 1.39 a and the annual percentage of area burned in the PBR was 71.9%. The MFRI (MFRI<2.00 a) was low in grasslands, shrub savannah, tree savannah, woodland savannah, and rock vegetation. Fire regime must be maintained to preserve the integrity of the PBR. In this context, we suggest applying early fire in tree and woodland savannahs to lower grass height, and late dry season fires every two to three years in shrub savannah to limit the expansion of shrubs and bushes. We propose a laissez-faire system in areas in woodland savannah where the fire frequency is sufficient to allow tree growth. Our findings highlight the utility of remote sensing in defining the geographical and temporal patterns of fire in the PBR and could help to manage this important fire prone area.

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Soil microbial community diversity and distribution characteristics under three vegetation types in the Qilian Mountains, China
TONG Shan, CAO Guangchao, ZHANG Zhuo, ZHANG Jinhu, YAN Xin
Journal of Arid Land    2023, 15 (3): 359-376.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-023-0006-7
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Qilian Mountains in Northwest China is a significant ecological security barrier due to its distinctive geographic setting, which has significant biological resource and gene pool. In order to assess the soil quality and ecosystem health in this area, we identified the structural characteristics and functional groups of soil microbial communities. This study focused on Amidongsuo, a typical watershed of the Qilian Mountains, and researched the vertical distribution and dominant populations of soil microorganisms in different habitats, and the relationship between soil microorganisms and environmental factors. Soil microorganisms from three grassland plots, five shrubland plots, and five forest plots in Amidongsuo were studied using high-throughput sequencing. The Venn diagram showed that the types of bacteria were fewer than those of fungi in Amidongsuo. Soil bacteria Acidobacteriota, Proteobacteria, and Methylomirabilota as well as fungi Basidiomycota, Ascomycota, and Mortierellomycota played dominant roles in Amidongsuo, according to the LEfSe (linear discriminant analysis (LDA) effect size) and community structure analyses. According to the ANOSIM (analysis of similarities) result, for both bacteria and fungi, R values of grassland and shrubland were small (R2=0.045 and R2=0.256, respectively), indicating little difference between these two ecosystems. RDA (redundancy analysis) showed a closer relationship between soil nutrients and fungi, and a gradually decreasing correlation between soil nutrients and microorganisms with increasing soil depth. Bacteria were mainly affected by pH, nitrogen (N), and potassium (K), while fungi were mainly affected by K. Overall, fungi had more effect on soil quality than bacteria. Therefore, adjustment of soil K content might improve the soil environment of Amidongsuo in the Qilian Mountains.

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Investigating the causes of Lake Urmia shrinkage: climate change or anthropogenic factors?
Mehri SHAMS GHAHFAROKHI, Sogol MORADIAN
Journal of Arid Land    2023, 15 (4): 424-438.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-023-0054-z
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In the current scenario, Lake Urmia, one of the vastest hyper saline lakes on the Earth, has been affected by serious environmental degradation. Using different satellite images and observational data, this study investigated the changes in the lake for the period 1970-2020 based on the effects of climate change and several human-induced processes on Lake Urmia, such as population growth, excessive dam construction, low irrigation water use efficiency, poor water resources management, increased sediment flow into the lake, and lack of political and legal frameworks. The results indicated that between 1970 and 1997, the process of change in Lake Urmia was slow; however; the shrinkage was faster between 1998 and 2018, with about 30.00% of the lake area disappearing. As per the findings, anthropogenic factors had a much greater impact on Lake Urmia than climate change and prolonged drought; the mismanagement of water consumption in the agricultural sector and surface and underground water withdrawals in the basin have resulted in a sharp decrease in the lake's surface. These challenges have serious implications for water resources management in Lake Urmia Basin. Therefore, we provided a comprehensive overview of anthropogenic factors on the changes in Lake Urmia along with existing opportunities for better water resources management in Lake Urmia Basin. This study serves as a guideline framework for climate scientists and hydrologists in order to assess the effects of different factors on lake water resources and for decision-makers to formulate strategies and plans according to the management task.

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Analysis of morphological characteristics of gravels based on digital image processing technology and self-organizing map
XU Tao, YU Huan, QIU Xia, KONG Bo, XIANG Qing, XU Xiaoyu, FU Hao
Journal of Arid Land    2023, 15 (3): 310-326.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-023-0010-y
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A comprehensive understanding of spatial distribution and clustering patterns of gravels is of great significance for ecological restoration and monitoring. However, traditional methods for studying gravels are low-efficiency and have many errors. This study researched the spatial distribution and cluster characteristics of gravels based on digital image processing technology combined with a self-organizing map (SOM) and multivariate statistical methods in the grassland of northern Tibetan Plateau. Moreover, the correlation of morphological parameters of gravels between different cluster groups and the environmental factors affecting gravel distribution were analyzed. The results showed that the morphological characteristics of gravels in northern region (cluster C) and southern region (cluster B) of the Tibetan Plateau were similar, with a low gravel coverage, small gravel diameter, and elongated shape. These regions were mainly distributed in high mountainous areas with large topographic relief. The central region (cluster A) has high coverage of gravels with a larger diameter, mainly distributed in high-altitude plains with smaller undulation. Principal component analysis (PCA) results showed that the gravel distribution of cluster A may be mainly affected by vegetation, while those in clusters B and C could be mainly affected by topography, climate, and soil. The study confirmed that the combination of digital image processing technology and SOM could effectively analyzed the spatial distribution characteristics of gravels, providing a new mode for gravel research.

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Modern pollen assemblages and their relationships with vegetation and climate on the northern slopes of the Tianshan Mountains, Xinjiang, China
ZHANG Wensheng, AN Chengbang, LI Yuecong, ZHANG Yong, LU Chao, LIU Luyu, ZHANG Yanzhen, ZHENG Liyuan, LI Bing, FU Yang, DING Guoqiang
Journal of Arid Land    2023, 15 (3): 327-343.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-023-0096-2
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The reconstruction of paleovegetation and paleoclimate requires an understanding of the relationships between surface pollen assemblages and modern vegetation and climate. Here, we analyzed the characteristics of surface pollen assemblages across different vegetation zones in the Tianshan Mountains. Using surface pollen analysis and vegetation sample surveys at 75 sites on the northern slopes of the Tianshan Mountains, we determined the correlation between the percentage of dominant pollen types and the corresponding vegetation cover. Redundancy analysis was used to investigate the relationships between surface pollen assemblages and environmental factors. Our results show that the Tianshan Mountains contain several distinct ecological regions, which can be divided into five main vegetation zones from low to high altitudes: mountain desert zone (Hutubi County (HTB): 500-1300 m; Qitai County (QT): 1000-1600 m), mountain steppe zone (HTB: 1400-1600 m; QT: 1650-1800 m), mountain forest zone (HTB: 1650-2525 m; QT: 1850-2450 m), subalpine meadow zone (HTB: 2550-2600 m; QT: 2500-2600 m), and alpine mat vegetation zone (HTB: 2625-2700 m; QT: 2625-2750 m). The surface pollen assemblages of different vegetation zones can accurately reflect the characteristics of the mountainous vegetation patterns on the northern slopes of the Tianshan Mountains when excluding the widespread occurrence of Chenopodiaceae, Artemisia, and Picea pollen. Both average annual precipitation (Pann) and annual average temperature (Tann) affect the distribution of surface pollen assemblages. Moreover, Pann is the primary environmental factor affecting surface pollen assemblages in this region. A significant correlation exists between the pollen percentage and vegetation cover of Picea, Chenopodiaceae, Artemisia, and Asteraceae. Moreover, Picea, Chenopodiaceae, and Artemisia pollen are over-represented compared with their corresponding vegetation cover. The Asteraceae pollen percentage roughly reflects the distribution of a species within the local vegetation. These results have important implications for enhancing our understanding of the relationship between surface pollen assemblages and modern vegetation and climate.

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Investigation on biological activities for combating desertification in the western shores of Lake Urmia, Northwest Iran
Samire ROSTAMI, Ahmad ALIJANPOUR, Abbas BANJ SHAFIEI, Hesam AHMADY-BIRGANI, Hadi BEYGI HEIDARLOU
Journal of Arid Land    2023, 15 (3): 297-309.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-023-0008-5
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Lake Urmia, Northwest Iran, has confronted a drying procedure in recent years with losing 90% of its water body. The authorities concerned about desertification processes and possible dust events throughout the region. In this regard, the Iranian Natural Resources and Watershed Management Organization has taken ecological measures to plant vegetation using salt cedar (Tamarix ramosissima Ledeb.) shrubs to combat desertification. This study aimed to investigate the vegetation and soil characteristics of natural and plantation stands of salt cedar on the western shores of Lake Urmia. To this end, 7 transects were randomly selected with 15 shrubs in natural stands, and 7 transects were randomly selected with 15 shrubs in the plantation parts along the planting rows. Then, vegetative characteristics were examined. Also, soil samples were taken from the vicinity of the shrubs. The results indicated that there was no significant difference between the mean diameter at breast height (DBH) of salt cedar in natural sites. There was a significant difference between the mean number of sprouts per sprout-clumps, mean crown diameter, collar diameter, total height, and also between mean crown diameter and freshness of shrubs among different sites (P<0.05). It was also found that soil variables, such as clay content, organic matter, electrical conductivity (EC), Na+, specific absorption rate (SAR), Cl-, SO2- 4, Na+, K+, and PO2- 4 are the most significant variable parameters between studied sites. As the results shown, the values of EC, SAR, Na+, and Cl- are 6 times higher in the planted stands than in the natural stands of T. ramosissima. Also, the colonization of T. ramosissima in the planted stands is unsuccessful by dramatic drop in the total height and average diameter. Considering the role of soil characteristics in explaining the variance of data and site separation, it seems that these indicators can be applied in executive plans as important indicators to identify suitable planting sites for combating desertification.

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Projecting future precipitation change across the semi-arid Borana lowland, southern Ethiopia
Mitiku A WORKU, Gudina L FEYISA, Kassahun T BEKETIE, Emmanuel GARBOLINO
Journal of Arid Land    2023, 15 (9): 1023-1036.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-023-0063-y
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Climate change caused by past, current, and future greenhouse gas emissions has become a major concern for scientists in the field in many countries and regions of the world. This study modelled future precipitation change by downscaling a set of large-scale climate predictor variables (predictors) from the second generation Canadian Earth System Model (CanESM2) under two Representative Concentration Pathway (RCP) emission scenarios (RCP4.5 and RCP8.5) in the semi-arid Borana lowland, southern Ethiopia. The Statistical DownScaling Model (SDSM) 4.2.9 was employed to downscale and project future precipitation change in the middle (2036-2065; 2050s) and far (2066-2095; 2080s) future at the local scale. Historical precipitation observations from eight meteorological stations stretching from 1981 to 1995 and 1996 to 2005 were used for the model calibration and validation, respectively, and the time period of 1981-2018 was considered and used as the baseline period to analyze future precipitation change. The results revealed that the surface-specific humidity and the geopotential height at 500 hPa were the preferred large-scale predictors. Compared to the middle future (2050s), precipitation showed a much greater increase in the far future (2080s) under both RCP4.5 and RCP8.5 scenarios at all meteorological stations (except Teletele and Dillo stations). At Teltele station, the projected annual precipitation will decrease by 26.53% (2050s) and 39.45% (2080s) under RCP4.5 scenario, and 34.99% (2050s) and 60.62% (2080s) under RCP8.5 scenario. Seasonally, the main rainy period would shift from spring (March to May) to autumn (September to November) at Dehas, Dire, Moyale, and Teltele stations, but for Arero and Yabelo stations, spring would consistently receive more precipitation than autumn. It can be concluded that future precipitation in the semi-arid Borana lowland is predicted to differ under the two climate scenarios (RCP4.5 and RCP8.5), showing an increasing trend at most meteorological stations. This information could be helpful for policymakers to design adaptation plans in water resources management, and we suggest that the government should give more attention to improve early warning systems in drought-prone areas by providing dependable climate forecast information as early as possible.

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Enhanced soil moisture improves vegetation growth in an arid grassland of Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, China
ZHANG Hui, Giri R KATTEL, WANG Guojie, CHUAI Xiaowei, ZHANG Yuyang, MIAO Lijuan
Journal of Arid Land    2023, 15 (7): 871-885.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-023-0019-2
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Climate change impacts on grasslands that cover a quarter of the global land area, have become unprecedented during the 21st century. One of the important ecological realms, arid grasslands of northern China, which occupy more than 70% of the region's land area. However, the impact of climate change on vegetation growth in these arid grasslands is not consistent and lacks corresponding quantitative research. In this study, NDVI (normalized difference vegetation index) and climate factors including temperature, precipitation, solar radiation, soil moisture, and meteorological drought were analyzed to explore the determinants of changes in grassland greenness in Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region (northern China) during 1982-2016. The results showed that grasslands in Inner Mongolia witnessed an obvious trend of seasonal greening during the study period. Two prominent climatic factors, precipitation and soil moisture accounted for approximately 33% and 27% of grassland NDVI trends in the region based on multiple linear regression and boosted regression tree methods. This finding highlights the impact of water constraints to vegetation growth in Inner Mongolia's grasslands. The dominant role of precipitation in regulating grassland NDVI trends in Inner Mongolia significantly weakened from 1982 to 1996, and the role of soil moisture strengthened after 1996. Our findings emphasize the enhanced importance of soil moisture in driving vegetation growth in arid grasslands of Inner Mongolia, which should be thoroughly investigated in the future.

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Driving forces behind the spatiotemporal heterogeneity of land-use and land-cover change: A case study of the Weihe River Basin, China
WU Jingyan, LUO Jungang, ZHANG Han, YU Mengjie
Journal of Arid Land    2023, 15 (3): 253-273.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-023-0052-1
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The impact of socioeconomic development on land-use and land-cover change (LUCC) in river basins varies spatially and temporally. Exploring the spatiotemporal evolutionary trends and drivers of LUCC under regional disparities is the basis for the sustainable development and management of basins. In this study, the Weihe River Basin (WRB) in China was selected as a typical basin, and the WRB was divided into the upstream of the Weihe River Basin (UWRB), the midstream of the Weihe River Basin (MWRB), the downstream of the Weihe River Basin (DWRB), the Jinghe River Basin (JRB), and the Luohe River Basin (LRB). Based on land-use data (cultivated land, forestland, grassland, built-up land, bare land, and water body) from 1985 to 2020, we analyzed the spatiotemporal heterogeneity of LUCC in the WRB using a land-use transfer matrix and a dynamic change model. The driving forces of LUCC in the WRB in different periods were detected using the GeoDetector, and the selected influencing factors included meteorological factors (precipitation and temperature), natural factors (elevation, slope, soil, and distance to rivers), social factors (distance to national highway, distance to railway, distance to provincial highway, and distance to expressway), and human activity factors (population density and gross domestic product (GDP)). The results indicated that the types and intensities of LUCC conversions showed considerable disparities across different sub-basins, where complex conversions among cultivated land, forestland, and grassland occurred in the LRB, JRB, and UWRB, with higher dynamic change before 2000. The conversion of other land-use types to built-up land was concentrated in the UWRB, MWRB, and DWRB, with substantial increases after 2000. Additionally, the driving effects of the influencing factors on LUCC in each sub-basin also exhibited distinct diversity, with the LRB and JRB being influenced by the meteorological and social factors, and the UWRB, MWRB, and DWRB being driven by human activity factors. Moreover, the interaction of these influencing factors indicated an enhanced effect on LUCC. This study confirmed the spatiotemporal heterogeneity effects of socioeconomic status on LUCC in the WRB under regional differences, contributing to the sustainable development of the whole basin by managing sub-basins according to local conditions.

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Aeolian activity in the southern Gurbantunggut Desert of China during the last 900 years
LI Wen, MU Guijin, YE Changsheng, XU Lishuai, LI Gen
Journal of Arid Land    2023, 15 (6): 649-666.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-023-0057-9
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The mineral dust emitted from Central Asia has a significant influence on the global climate system. However, the history and mechanisms of aeolian activity in Central Asia remain unclear, due to the lack of well-dated records of aeolian activity and the intense wind erosion in some of the dust source areas (e.g., deserts). Here, we present the records of aeolian activity from a sedimentary sequence in the southern Gurbantunggut Desert of China using grain size analysis and optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) dating, based on field sampling in 2019. Specifically, we used eight OSL dates to construct chronological frameworks and applied the end-member (EM) analysis for the grain size data to extract the information of aeolian activity in the southern Gurbantunggut Desert during the last 900 a. The results show that the grain size dataset can be subdivided into three EMs (EM1, EM2, and EM3). The primary modal sizes of these EMs (EM1, EM2, and EM3) are 126.00, 178.00, and 283.00 μm, respectively. EM1 represents a mixture of the suspension components and saltation dust, while EM2 and EM3 show saltation dust transported over a shorter distance via strengthened near-surface winds, which can be used to trace aeolian activity. Combined with the OSL chronology, our results demonstrate that during the last 900 a, more intensive and frequent aeolian activity occurred during 450-100 a BP (Before Present) (i.e., the Little Ice Age (LIA)), which was reflected by a higher proportion of the coarse-grained components (EM2+EM3). Aeolian activity decreased during 900-450 a BP (i.e., the Medieval Warm Period (MWP)) and 100 a BP-present (i.e., the Current Warm Period (CWP)). Intensified aeolian activity was associated with the strengthening of the Siberian High and cooling events at high northern latitudes. We propose that the Siberian High, under the influence of temperature changes at high northern latitudes, controlled the frequency and intensity of aeolian activity in Central Asia. Cooling at high northern latitudes would have significantly enhanced the Siberian High, causing its position to shift southward. Subsequently, the incursion of cold air masses from high northern latitudes resulted in stronger wind regimes and increased dust emissions from the southern Gurbantunggut Desert. It is possible that aeolian activity may be weakened in Central Asia under future global warming scenarios, but the impact of human activities on this region must also be considered.

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Do aeolian deposits and sand encroachment intensity shape patterns of vegetation diversity and plant functional traits in desert pavements?
M'hammed BOUALLALA, Souad NEFFAR, Lyès BRADAI, Haroun CHENCHOUNI
Journal of Arid Land    2023, 15 (6): 667-694.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-023-0014-7
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The effects of sand encroachment on composition, diversity, and functional patterns of vegetation in drylands are rarely studied, and yet addressing these aspects is important to deepen our understanding of the biodiversity conservation. This study aimed to investigate the effect of sand encroachment on plant functional biodiversity of desert pavements (gravel deserts) in the Sahara Desert of Algeria. Plants were sampled and analyzed in three desert pavements with different levels of sand encroachment (LSE) and quantity of aeolian deposits (low, LLSE; medium, MLSE; and high, HLSE). Within the sample-plot area (100 m2), density of every plant species was identified and total vegetation cover was determined. Plant taxonomic and functional diversity were analyzed and compared between LSE. Result showed that 19 plant species in desert pavements were classified into 18 genera and 13 families. Asteraceae and Poaceae were the most important families. The species Anabasis articulata (Forssk) Moq. characterized LLSE desert pavements with 11 species, whereas Thymelaea microphylla Coss. & Durieu ex Meisn. and Calobota saharae (C&D) Boatwr. & van Wyk were dominant species of desert pavements with MLSE (14 species) and HLSE (10 species), respectively. The highest values of species richness and biodiversity were recorded in desert pavements with MLSE, while low values of these ecological parameters were obtained in desert pavements with HLSE. Desert pavements with LLSE were characterized with the highest values of species abundances. Plant communities were dominated by chamaephytes, anemochorous, arido-active, and competitive stress-tolerant plants. The increase in LSE along the gradient from LLSE to HLSE induced significant changes in plant community variables including decreases in plant density, plant rarity, lifeform composition, morphological type, and aridity adaptation. Desert pavements with HLSE favor the degradation of vegetation and trigger biodiversity erosion.

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Evolution of groundwater recharge-discharge balance in the Turpan Basin of China during 1959-2021
QIN Guoqiang, WU Bin, DONG Xinguang, DU Mingliang, WANG Bo
Journal of Arid Land    2023, 15 (9): 1037-1051.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-023-0067-7
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Groundwater overexploitation is a serious problem in the Turpan Basin, Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region of China, causing groundwater level declines and ecological and environmental problems such as the desiccation of karez wells and the shrinkage of lakes. Based on historical groundwater data and field survey data from 1959 to 2021, we comprehensively studied the evolution of groundwater recharge and discharge terms in the Turpan Basin using the groundwater equilibrium method, mathematical statistics, and GIS spatial analysis. The reasons for groundwater overexploitation were also discussed. The results indicated that groundwater recharge increased from 14.58×108 m3 in 1959 to 15.69×108 m3 in 1980, then continued to decrease to 6.77×108 m3 in 2021. Groundwater discharge increased from 14.49×108 m3 in 1959 to 16.02×108 m3 in 1989, while continued to decrease to 9.97×108 m3 in 2021. Since 1980, groundwater recharge-discharge balance has been broken, the decrease rate of groundwater recharge exceeded that of groundwater discharge and groundwater recharge was always lower than groundwater discharge, showing in a negative equilibrium, which caused the continuous decrease in groundwater level in the Turpan Basin. From 1980 to 2002, groundwater overexploitation increased rapidly, peaking from 2003 to 2011 with an average overexploitation rate of 4.79×108 m3/a; then, it slowed slightly from 2012 to 2021, and the cumulative groundwater overexploitation was 99.21×108 m3 during 1980-2021. This research can provide a scientific foundation for the restoration and sustainable use of groundwater in the overexploited areas of the Turpan Basin.

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Fate of rubber bush (Calotropis procera (Aiton) W. T. Aiton) in adversary environment modulated by microstructural and functional attributes
Ummar IQBAL, Mansoor HAMEED, Farooq AHMAD, Muhammad S AAHMAD, Muhammad ASHRAF
Journal of Arid Land    2023, 15 (5): 578-601.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-023-0012-9
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Calotropis procera (Aiton) W. T. Aiton, belonging to the family Apocynaceae, is C3 evergreen plant species in arid and semi-arid areas of the Punjab Province, Pakistan. It grows in a variety of habitats like salt affected and waterlogged area, desert/semi-desert, roadside, wasteland, graveyard, forest, crop field, coastline, and river/canal bank. A total of 12 populations growing in different ecological regions were sampled to evaluate their growth, physio-biochemical, and anatomical responses to specific environmental condition. Population adapted to desert/semi-desert showed vigorous growth (plant height, shoot length, and number of leaves), enhanced photosynthetic level (chlorophyll a, chlorophyll b, carotenoids, and total chlorophyll), and apparent anatomical modifications such as increased stem radius, cuticle thickness, storage parenchyma tissues (cortex and pith), and vascular bundles in stems, while the maximum of midrib and lamina thickness, epidermal cells, cuticle thickness, cortical proportion, abaxial stomatal density, and its area in leaves. There was high plasticity in structural and functional features of these populations, which enable them to survive and tolerate under such hot and dry desert environment. Population of saline areas exhibited very critical modifications to sustain under salt prone environment. At physiological level, it possesses the maximum amount of organic osmolytes (glycine betaine and proline) and antioxidants (superoxide dismutase (SOD), catalase (CAT), and peroxidase (POD)), while at anatomical level, it showed intensive sclerification, large phloem region (inner and outer), pith parenchyma cells, and metaxylem vessels in stems and leaves. The population of dry mountains showed very distinctive features, such as increased shoot ionic contents (K+ and Ca2+), collenchyma and sclerenchyma thickness in stems, trichomes size, and numerous small stomata on abaxial surface of leaves. It is concluded that no definite or precise single character can be taken as a yardstick for adjudging the biomass production in this rubber bush weed population.

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Saxicolous lichen communities in three basins associated with mining activity in northwestern Argentina
Juan M HERNÁNDEZ, Renato A GARCÍA, Edith R FILIPPINI, Cecilia ESTRABOU, Martha S CAÑAS, Juan M RODRÍGUEZ
Journal of Arid Land    2023, 15 (8): 989-1005.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-023-0024-5
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Mining activity affects the vegetation and soils of the ecosystems. However, the effects of mining activity on saxicolous lichen communities are less concerned. Thus, the aim of this study was to characterize saxicolous lichen communities in three basins (Vis-Vis River basin, Poteros River basin, and Capillitas River basin) surrounding metalliferous mining projects of different types of operation and at different stages of exploitation. A large-scale mine (Bajo de la Alumbrera) with more than 25 a of open-pit mining located in the Vis-Vis River basin (CRV). A pre-exploitation mine (Agua Rica) located in the Poteros River basin (CRP), and a small-scale mine (Minas Capillitas) with more than 160 a of underground mining located in the Capillitas River basin (CAC). In each basin, species richness, cover, and frequency of lichen communities were measured on 40 rock outcrops. Also, explanatory variables were recorded, i.e., altitude, slope, aspect, vegetation cover, rock, and soil cover around the rocky area sampled. Richness and total cover of lichen communities were analysed using linear models, and species composition was explored using multivariate ordination analysis. Results showed that a total of 118 lichen species were identified. The species richness differed among basins and the lichen composition present in areas close to mining sites responded mainly to basins, altitude, and microsite variables. The lichen cover showed no difference among basins, but it changed under different rock and vegetation cover. It was not possible to quantify the effects of mining activity on species richness and composition. However, the low richness values found in the downstream of Minera Alumbrera could be associated with the negative impact of open-pit mining. Moreover, the effects of large-scale mining activity on lichen communities needs more investigation.

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Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi improve biomass, photosynthesis, and water use efficiency of Opuntia ficus-indica (L.) Miller under different water levels
Teame G KEBEDE, Emiru BIRHANE, Kiros-Meles AYIMUT, Yemane G EGZIABHER
Journal of Arid Land    2023, 15 (8): 975-988.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-023-0022-7
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Opuntia ficus-indica (L.) Miller is a CAM (crassulacean acid metabolism) plant with an extraordinary capacity to adapt to drought stress by its ability to fix atmospheric CO2 at nighttime, store a significant amount of water in cladodes, and reduce root growth. Plants that grow in moisture-stress conditions with thick and less fine root hairs have a strong symbiosis with arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) to adapt to drought stress. Water stress can limit plant growth and biomass production, which can be rehabilitated by AMF association through improved physiological performance. The objective of this study was to investigate the effects of AMF inoculations and variable soil water levels on the biomass, photosynthesis, and water use efficiency of the spiny and spineless O. ficus-indica. The experiment was conducted in a greenhouse with a full factorial experiment using O. ficus-indica type (spiny or spineless), AMF (presence or absence), and four soil water available (SWA) treatments through seven replications. Water treatments applied were 0%-25% SWA (T1), 25%-50% SWA (T2), 50%-75% SWA (T3), and 75%-100% SWA (T4). Drought stress reduced biomass and cladode growth, while AMF colonization significantly increased the biomass production with significant changes in the physiological performance of O. ficus-indica. AMF presence significantly increased biomass of both O. ficus-indica plant types through improved growth, photosynthetic water use efficiency, and photosynthesis. The presence of spines on the surface of cladodes significantly reduced the rate of photosynthesis and photosynthetic water use efficiency. Net photosynthesis, photosynthetic water use efficiency, transpiration, and stomatal conductance rate significantly decreased with increased drought stress. Under drought stress, some planted mother cladodes with the absence of AMF have not established daughter cladodes, whereas AMF-inoculated mother cladodes fully established daughter cladodes. AMF root colonization significantly increased with the decrease of SWA. AMF caused an increase in biomass production, increased tolerance to drought stress, and improved photosynthesis and water use efficiency performance of O. ficus-indica. The potential of O. ficus-indica to adapt to drought stress is controlled by the morpho-physiological performance related to AMF association.

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Soil quality assessment for desertification based on multi-indicators with the best-worst method in a semi-arid ecosystem
Orhan DENGİZ, İnci DEMİRAĞ TURAN
Journal of Arid Land    2023, 15 (7): 779-796.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-023-0020-9
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Since there are some signs of land degradation and desertification showing how soil sustainability is threatened, it is crucial to create a soil quality index (SQI) model in the semi-arid Çorum Basin, situated between the Black Sea and Anatolia Region, Central Turkey. The primary aims of the study are: (1) to determine SQI values of the micro-basin in terms of land degradation and desertification. Moreover, the best-worst method (BWM) was used to determine the weighting score for each parameter; (2) to produce the soils' spatial distribution by utilizing different geostatistical models and GIS (geographic information system) techniques; and (3) to validate the obtained SQI values with biomass reflectance values. Therefore, the relationship of RE-OSAVI (red-edge optimized soil-adjusted vegetation index) and NDVI (normalized difference vegetation index) generated from Sentinel-2A satellite images at different time series with soil quality was examined. Results showed that SQI values were high in the areas that had almost a flat and slight slope. Moreover, the areas with high clay content and thick soil depth did not have salinity problems, and were generally distributed in the middle parts of the basin. However, the areas with a high slope, poor vegetation, high sand content, and low water holding capacity had low SQI values. Furthermore, a statistically high positive correlation of RE-OSAVI and NDVI indices with soil quality was found, and NDVI had the highest correlative value for June (R2=0.802) compared with RE-OSAVI.

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Future meteorological drought conditions in southwestern Iran based on the NEX-GDDP climate dataset
Sakine KOOHI, Hadi RAMEZANI ETEDALI
Journal of Arid Land    2023, 15 (4): 377-392.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-023-0097-1
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Investigation of the climate change effects on drought is required to develop management strategies for minimizing adverse social and economic impacts. Therefore, studying the future meteorological drought conditions at a local scale is vital. In this study, we assessed the efficiency of seven downscaled Global Climate Models (GCMs) provided by the NASA Earth Exchange Global Daily Downscaled Projections (NEX-GDDP), and investigated the impacts of climate change on future meteorological drought using Standard Precipitation Index (SPI) in the Karoun River Basin (KRB) of southwestern Iran under two Representative Concentration Pathway (RCP) emission scenarios, i.e., RCP4.5 and RCP8.5. The results demonstrated that SPI estimated based on the Meteorological Research Institute Coupled Global Climate Model version 3 (MRI-CGCM3) is consistent with the one estimated by synoptic stations during the historical period (1990-2005). The root mean square error (RMSE) value is less than 0.75 in 77% of the synoptic stations. GCMs have high uncertainty in most synoptic stations except those located in the plain. Using the average of a few GCMs to improve performance and reduce uncertainty is suggested by the results. The results revealed that with the areas affected by wetness decreasing in the KRB, drought frequency in the North KRB is likely to increase at the end of the 21st century under RCP4.5 and RCP8.5 scenarios. At the seasonal scale, the decreasing trend for SPI in spring, summer, and winter shows a drought tendency in this region. The climate-induced drought hazard can have vast consequences, especially in agriculture and rural livelihoods. Accordingly, an increasing trend in drought during the growing seasons under RCP scenarios is vital for water managers and farmers to adopt strategies to reduce the damages. The results of this study are of great value for formulating sustainable water resources management plans affected by climate change.

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Wind dynamic environment and wind-sand erosion and deposition processes on different surfaces along the Dunhuang-Golmud railway, China
ZHANG Hongxue, ZHANG Kecun, AN Zhishan, YU Yanping
Journal of Arid Land    2023, 15 (4): 393-406.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-023-0099-z
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The Dunhuang-Golmud railway passes through different deserts in arid areas, especially drifting-sand desert and sandy-gravel Gobi. The near-surface wind environment and wind-sand transport process vary due to different external factors, such as topography, vegetation, and regional climate, resulting in evident spatial differences in surface erosion and deposition. Consequently, the measures for preventing wind-sand hazards will differ. However, the mechanism and control theory of sand damage remain poorly understood. In this study, we used meteorological observation, three-dimensional (3D) laser scanning, and grain-size analysis to compare and evaluate the spatial distribution of wind conditions, sand erosion and deposition patterns, and grain composition in the drifting-sand desert and sandy-gravel Gobi along the Dunhuang-Golmud railway in China. Results show that the annual mean wind speed, the frequency of sand-driving wind, and the drift potential of sandy-gravel Gobi are higher than those of drifting-sand desert, indicating a greater wind strength in the sandy-gravel Gobi, which exhibits spatial heterogeneity in wind conditions. The major sediment components in sandy-gravel Gobi are very fine sand, fine sand, and medium sand, and that in drifting-sand desert are very fine sand and fine sand. We found that the sediment in the sandy-gravel Gobi is coarser than that in the drifting-sand desert based on mean grain size and sediment component. The spatial distributions of sand erosion and deposition in the sandy-gravel Gobi and drifting-sand desert are consistent, with sand deposition mainly on the west side of the railway and sand erosion on the east side of the railway. The area of sand deposition in the drifting-sand desert accounts for 75.83% of the total area, with a mean deposition thickness of 0.032 m; while the area of sand deposition in the sandy-gravel Gobi accounts for 65.31% of the total area, with a mean deposition thickness of 0.028 m, indicating greater deposition amounts in the drifting-sand desert due to the presence of more fine sediment components. However, the sand deposition is more concentrated with a greater thickness on the embankment and track in the sandy-gravel Gobi and is dispersed with a uniform thickness in the drifting-sand desert. The sand deposition on the track of the sandy-gravel Gobi mainly comes from the east side of the railway. The results of this study are helpful in developing the preventive measures and determining appropriate selection and layout measures for sand control.

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Correlation analysis between the Aral Sea shrinkage and the Amu Darya River
WANG Min, CHEN Xi, CAO Liangzhong, KURBAN Alishir, SHI Haiyang, WU Nannan, EZIZ Anwar, YUAN Xiuliang, Philippe DE MAEYER
Journal of Arid Land    2023, 15 (7): 757-778.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-023-0062-z
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The shrinkage of the Aral Sea, which is closely related to the Amu Darya River, strongly affects the sustainability of the local natural ecosystem, agricultural production, and human well-being. In this study, we used the Bayesian Estimator of Abrupt change, Seasonal change, and Trend (BEAST) model to detect the historical change points in the variation of the Aral Sea and the Amu Darya River and analyse the causes of the Aral Sea shrinkage during the 1950-2016 period. Further, we applied multifractal detrend cross-correlation analysis (MF-DCCA) and quantitative analysis to investigate the responses of the Aral Sea to the runoff in the Amu Darya River, which is the main source of recharge to the Aral Sea. Our results showed that two significant trend change points in the water volume change of the Aral Sea occurred, in 1961 and 1974. Before 1961, the water volume in the Aral Sea was stable, after which it began to shrink, with a shrinkage rate fluctuating around 15.21 km3/a. After 1974, the water volume of the Aral Sea decreased substantially at a rate of up to 48.97 km3/a, which was the highest value recorded in this study. In addition, although the response of the Aral Sea's water volume to its recharge runoff demonstrated a complex non-linear relationship, the replenishment of the Aral Sea by the runoff in the lower reaches of the Amu Darya River was identified as the dominant factor affecting the Aral Sea shrinkage. Based on the scenario analyses, we concluded that it is possible to slow down the retreat of the Aral Sea and restore its ecosystem by increasing the efficiency of agricultural water use, decreasing agricultural water use in the middle and lower reaches, reducing ineffective evaporation from reservoirs and wetlands, and increasing the water coming from the lower reaches of the Amu Darya River to the 1961-1973 level. These measures would maintain and stabilise the water area and water volume of the Aral Sea in a state of ecological restoration. Therefore, this study focuses on how human consumption of recharge runoff affects the Aral Sea and provides scientific perspective on its ecological conservation and sustainable development.

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Dividing the transit wind speeds into intervals as a favorable methodology for analyzing the relationship between wind speed and the aerodynamic impedance of vegetation in semiarid grasslands
LI Ruishen, PEI Haifeng, ZHANG Shengwei, LI Fengming, LIN Xi, WANG Shuai, YANG Lin
Journal of Arid Land    2023, 15 (8): 887-900.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-023-0102-8
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In grassland ecosystems, the aerodynamic roughness (Z0) and frictional wind speed (u*) contribute to the aerodynamic impedance of the grassland canopy. Thus, they are often used in the studies of wind erosion and evapotranspiration. However, the effect of wind speed and grazing measures on the aerodynamic impedance of the grassland canopy has received less analysis. In this study, we monitored wind speeds at multiple heights in grazed and grazing-prohibited grasslands for 1 month in 2021, determined the transit wind speed at 2.0 m height by comparing wind speed differences at the same height in both grasslands, and divided these transit wind speeds at intervals of 2.0 m/s to analyze the effect of the transit wind speed on the relationship among Z0, u*, and wind speed within the grassland canopy. The results showed that dividing the transit wind speeds into intervals has a positive effect on the logarithmic fit of the wind speed profile. After dividing the transit wind speeds into intervals, the wind speed at 0.1 m height (V0.1) gradually decreased with the increase of Z0, exhibiting three distinct stages: a sharp change zone, a steady change zone, and a flat zone; while the overall trend of u* increased first and then decreased with the increase of V0.1. Dividing the transit wind speeds into intervals improved the fitting relationship between Z0 and V0.1 and changed their fitting functions in grazed and grazing-prohibited grasslands. According to the computational fluid dynamic results, we found that the number of tall-stature plants has a more significant effect on windproof capacity than their height. The results of this study contribute to a better understanding of the relationship between wind speed and the aerodynamic impedance of vegetation in grassland environments.

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Parkland trees on smallholder farms ameliorate soil physical-chemical properties in the semi-arid area of Tigray, Ethiopia
Selam LJALEM, Emiru BIRHANE, Kassa TEKA, Daniel H BERHE
Journal of Arid Land    2024, 16 (1): 1-13.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-024-0002-6
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Proposed agroforestry options should begin with the species that farmers are most familiar with, which would be the native multipurpose trees that have evolved under smallholder farms and socioeconomic conditions. The African birch (Anogeissus leiocarpa (DC.) Guill. & Perr.) and pink jacaranda (Stereospermum kunthianum Cham.) trees are the dominant species in the agroforestry parkland system in the drylands of Tigray, Ethiopia. Smallholder farmers highly value these trees for their multifunctional uses including timber, firewood, charcoal, medicine, etc. These trees also could improve soil fertility. However, the amount of soil physical and chemical properties enhanced by the two species must be determined to maintain the sustainable conservation of the species in the parklands and to scale up to similar agro- ecological systems. Hence, we selected twelve isolated trees, six from each species that had similar dendrometric characteristics and were growing in similar environmental conditions. We divided the canopy cover of each tree into three radial distances: mid-canopy, canopy edge, and canopy gap (control). At each distance, we took soil samples from three different depths. We collected 216 soil samples (half disturbed and the other half undisturbed) from each canopy position and soil depth. Bulk density (BD), soil moisture content (SMC), soil organic carbon (SOC), total nitrogen (TN), available phosphorus (AP), available potassium (AK), pH, electrical conductivity (EC), and cation exchange capacity (CEC) were analysed. Results revealed that soil physical and chemical properties significantly improved except for soil texture and EC under both species, CEC under A. leiocarpus, and soil pH under S. kunthianum, all the studied soils were improved under both species canopy as compared with canopy gap. SMC, TN, AP, and AK under canopy of these trees were respectively 24.1%, 11.1%, 55.0%, and 9.3% higher than those soils under control. The two parkland agroforestry species significantly enhanced soil fertility near the canopy of topsoil through improving soil physical and chemical properties. These two species were recommended in the drylands with similar agro-ecological systems.

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Responses of vegetation yield to precipitation and reference evapotranspiration in a desert steppe in Inner Mongolia, China
LI Hongfang, WANG Jian, LIU Hu, MIAO Henglu, LIU Jianfeng
Journal of Arid Land    2023, 15 (4): 477-490.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-023-0051-2
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Drought, which restricts the sustainable development of agriculture, ecological health, and social economy, is affected by a variety of factors. It is widely accepted that a single variable cannot fully reflect the characteristics of drought events. Studying precipitation, reference evapotranspiration (ET0), and vegetation yield can derive information to help conserve water resources in grassland ecosystems in arid and semi-arid regions. In this study, the interactions of precipitation, ET0, and vegetation yield in Darhan Muminggan Joint Banner (DMJB), a desert steppe in Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, China were explored using two-dimensional (2D) and three-dimensional (3D) joint distribution models. Three types of Copula functions were applied to quantitatively analyze the joint distribution probability of different combinations of precipitation, ET0, and vegetation yield. For the precipitation-ET0 dry-wet type, the 2D joint distribution probability with precipitation≤245.69 mm/a or ET0≥959.20 mm/a in DMJB was approximately 0.60, while the joint distribution probability with precipitation≤245.69 mm/a and ET0≥959.20 mm/a was approximately 0.20. Correspondingly, the joint return period that at least one of the two events (precipitation was dry or ET0 was wet) occurred was 2 a, and the co-occurrence return period that both events (precipitation was dry and ET0 was wet) occurred was 5 a. Under this condition, the interval between dry and wet events would be short, the water supply and demand were unbalanced, and the water demand of vegetation would not be met. In addition, when precipitation remained stable and ET0 increased, the 3D joint distribution probability that vegetation yield would decrease due to water shortage in the precipitation-ET0 dry-wet years could reach up to 0.60-0.70. In future work, irrigation activities and water allocation criteria need to be implemented to increase vegetation yield and the safety of water resources in the desert steppe of Inner Mongolia.

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Leguminosae plants play a key role in affecting soil physical-chemical and biological properties during grassland succession after farmland abandonment in the Loess Plateau, China
SUN Lin, YU Zhouchang, TIAN Xingfang, ZHANG Ying, SHI Jiayi, FU Rong, LIANG Yujie, ZHANG Wei
Journal of Arid Land    2023, 15 (9): 1107-1128.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-023-0025-4
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Leguminosae are an important part of terrestrial ecosystems and play a key role in promoting soil nutrient cycling and improving soil properties. However, plant composition and species diversity change rapidly during the process of succession, the effect of leguminosae on soil physical-chemical and biological properties is still unclear. This study investigated the changes in the composition of plant community, vegetation characteristics, soil physical-chemical properties, and soil biological properties on five former farmlands in China, which had been abandoned for 0, 5, 10, 18, and 30 a. Results showed that, with successional time, plant community developed from annual plants to perennial plants, the importance of Leguminosae and Asteraceae significantly increased and decreased, respectively, and the importance of grass increased and then decreased, having a maximum value after 5 a of abandonment. Plant diversity indices increased with successional time, and vegetation coverage and above- and below-ground biomass increased significantly with successional time after 5 a of abandonment. Compared with farmland, 30 a of abandonment significantly increased soil nutrient content, but total and available phosphorus decreased with successional time. Changes in plant community composition and vegetation characteristics not only change soil properties and improve soil physical-chemical properties, but also regulate soil biological activity, thus affecting soil nutrient cycling. Among these, Leguminosae have the greatest influence on soil properties, and their importance values and community composition are significantly correlated with soil properties. Therefore, this research provides more scientific guidance for selecting plant species to stabilize soil ecosystem of farmland to grassland in the Loess Plateau, China.

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Heterogeneity and non-linearity of ecosystem responses to climate change in the Qilian Mountains National Park, China
GAO Xiang, WEN Ruiyang, Kevin LO, LI Jie, YAN An
Journal of Arid Land    2023, 15 (5): 508-522.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-023-0101-9
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Ecosystem responses to climate change, particularly in arid environments, is an understudied topic. This study conducted a spatial analysis of ecosystem responses to short-term variability in temperature, precipitation, and solar radiation in the Qilian Mountains National Park, an arid mountainous region in Northwest China. We collected precipitation and temperature data from the National Science and Technology Infrastructure Platform, solar radiation data from the China Meteorological Forcing Dataset, and vegetation cover remote-sensing data from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer. We used the vegetation sensitivity index to identify areas sensitive to climate change and to determine which climatic factors were significant in this regard. The findings revealed a high degree of heterogeneity and non-linearity of ecosystem responses to climate change. Four types of heterogeneity were identified: longitude, altitude, ecosystem, and climate disturbance. Furthermore, the characteristics of nonlinear ecosystem responses to climate change included: (1) inconsistency in the controlling climatic factors for the same ecosystems in different geographical settings; (2) the interaction between different climatic factors results in varying weights that affect ecosystem stability and makes them difficult to determine; and (3) the hysteresis effect of vegetation increases the uncertainty of ecosystem responses to climate change. The findings are significant because they highlight the complexity of ecosystem responses to climate change. Furthermore, the identification of areas that are particularly sensitive to climate change and the influencing factors has important implications for predicting and managing the impacts of climate change on ecosystems, which can help protect the stability of ecosystems in the Qilian Mountains National Park.

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Effects of drought treatment on photosystem II activity in the ephemeral plant Erodium oxyrhinchum
CHEN Yingying, LIN Yajun, ZHOU Xiaobing, ZHANG Jing, YANG Chunhong, ZHANG Yuanming
Journal of Arid Land    2023, 15 (6): 724-739.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-023-0058-8
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Drought is a critical limiting factor affecting the growth and development of plants in arid and semi-arid areas. Photosynthesis, one of the most important physiological processes of plants, can be significantly inhibited by drought. Photosystem II (PSII) is considered the main attack target when photosynthesis is affected by drought. To clarify how PSII components of the ephemeral plant Erodium oxyrhinchum (grown in the Gurbantunggut Desert, China) respond to drought treatment, we evaluated the functional activity of PSII by determining chlorophyll fluorescence and gas exchange parameters under different drought treatment levels (control (400 mL), moderate drought (200 mL), and severe drought (100 mL)). Under moderate drought treatment, significant decreases were found in net photosynthetic rate (Pn), effective quantum yield of PSII (Y(II)), relative electron transfer rate of PSII (rETR(II)), oxygen-releasing complex, probability of an absorbed exciton moving an electron into the electron transport chain beyond primary quinone receptor QA- (Φ(Eo)), probability of a trapped exciton moving an electron into the electron transport chain beyond primary quinone receptor QA- (ψ(Eo)), and performance index of PSII (PIabs). Compared to control treatment, marked increases were observed in water use efficiency (WUE), relative variable fluorescence at the J step (VJ), initial fluorescence (Fo), and dissipated energy per active reaction center (DIo/RC) under moderate drought treatment, but there were no substantial changes in semi-saturated light intensity (IK), active reaction centers per cross-section (RC/CS), and total performance index of PSII and PSI (PItotal, where PSI is the photosystem I). The changes of the above parameters under severe drought treatment were more significant than those under moderate drought treatment. In addition, severe drought treatment significantly increased the absorbed energy per active reaction center (ABS/RC) and trapping energy per active reaction center (TRo/RC) but decreased the energy transmission connectivity of PSII components, RC/CS, and PItotal, compared to moderate drought and control treatments. Principle component analysis (PCA) revealed similar information according to the grouping of parameters. Moderate drought treatment was obviously characterized by RC/CS parameter, and the values of Fo, VJ, ABS/RC, DIo/RC, and TRo/RC showed specific reactions to severe drought treatment. These results demonstrated that moderate drought treatment reduced the photochemical activity of PSII to a certain extent but E. oxyrhinchum still showed strong adaptation against drought treatment, while severe drought treatment seriously damaged the structure of PSII. The results of this study are useful for further understanding the adaptations of ephemeral plants to different water conditions and can provide a reference for the selection of relevant parameters for photosynthesis measurements of large samples in the field.

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Characteristics of snow cover distribution along railway subgrade and the protective effect of snow fences
LEI Jia, CHENG Jianjun, GAO Li, MA Benteng, AN Yuanfeng, DONG Hongguang
Journal of Arid Land    2023, 15 (8): 901-919.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-023-0105-5
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Railways built in cold, snowy, and lightly populated areas are subjected to wind and snow disasters. In this study, we selected a snow hazard prevention and control section of the Altay-Zhundong Railway in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region of China as the research object. We investigated the deposited snowfall variation characteristics on the two sides and in the embankment pavement area of snow fences with different porosities, fence heights, and arrangement distances using single-factor tests and orthogonal tests based on global atmospheric reanalysis climate data, field survey data, and a multi-phase flow analysis model. The results showed significant differences in the characteristics of snow cover distribution and snow cover thickness between the embankment and the cutting in the absence of snow protection measures. The maximum snow cover thickness of the embankment pavement decreased by 12.6% relative to the cutting pavement. The snow cover thickness of the embankment exhibited an increasing trend from windward shoulder to leeward shoulder, whereas the snow cover thickness of the cutting presented a declining trend from windward shoulder to leeward toe. In the collaborative prevention and control of snow fences and embankments, the three factors can be ranked in terms of their sensitivity to deposited snowfall within the influence scope of snow fences as follows: fence height>arrangement distance>porosity. At the same time, fence height yielded a significant relationship for the influence scope of snow fences (P<0.05). The three factors can also be ranked in terms of their sensitivity to deposited snowfall on the pavement as follows: porosity>fence height>arrangement distance. For the embankment protection of the Altay-Zhundong Railway against wind and snow, snow fence with a porosity of 75%, a fence height of 4.8 m, and an arrangement distance from the embankment of 60 m produced the best snow control effect. By revealing the characteristics of snow cover distribution along railway subgrade and the protective effect of snow fences, this study provides valuable references for the engineering applications of railway construction in areas prone to wind and snow disasters.

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Spatiotemporal variations in ecological quality of Otindag Sandy Land based on a new modified remote sensing ecological index
ZHAO Xiaohan, HAN Dianchen, LU Qi, LI Yunpeng, ZHANG Fangmin
Journal of Arid Land    2023, 15 (8): 920-939.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-023-0065-9
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Otindag Sandy Land in China is an important ecological barrier to Beijing; the changes in its ecological quality are major concerns for sustainable development and planning of this area. Based on principal component analysis and path analysis, we first generated a modified remote sensing ecological index (MRSEI) coupled with satellite and ground observational data during 2001-2020 that integrated four local indicators (greenness, wetness, and heatness that reflect vegetation status, water, and heat conditions, respectively, as well as soil erosion). Then, we assessed the ecological quality in Otindag Sandy Land during 2001-2020 based on the MRSEI at different time scales (i.e., the whole year, growing season, and non-growing season). MRSEI generally increased with an upward rate of 0.006/a during 2001-2020, with clear seasonal and spatial variations. Ecological quality was significantly improved in most regions of Otindag Sandy Land but degraded in the southern part. Regions with ecological degradation expanded to 18.64% of the total area in the non-growing season. The area with the worst grade of MRSEI shrunk by 15.83% of the total area from 2001 to 2020, while the area with the best grade of MRSEI increased by 9.77% of the total area. The temporal heterogeneity of ecological conditions indicated that the improvement process of ecological quality in the growing season may be interrupted or deteriorated in the following non-growing season. The implementation of ecological restoration measures in Otindag Sandy Land should not ignore the seasonal characteristics and spatial heterogeneity of local ecological quality. The results can explore the effectiveness of ecological restoration and provide scientific guides on sustainable development measures for drylands.

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Environmental significance and hydrochemical characteristics of rivers in the western region of the Altay Mountains, China
LIU Shuangshuang, WANG Feiteng, XU Chunhai, WANG Lin, LI Huilin
Journal of Arid Land    2023, 15 (9): 1052-1066.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-023-0106-4
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Analysis of environmental significance and hydrochemical characteristics of river water in mountainous regions is vital for ensuring water security. In this study, we collected a total of 164 water samples in the western region of the Altay Mountains, China, in 2021. We used principal component analysis and enrichment factor analysis to examine the chemical properties and spatiotemporal variations of major ions (including F-, Cl-, NO3-, SO42-, Li+, Na+, NH4+, K+, Mg2+, and Ca2+) present in river water, as well as to identify the factors influencing these variations. Additionally, we assessed the suitability of river water for drinking and irrigation purposes based on the total dissolved solids, soluble sodium percentage, sodium adsorption ratio, and total hardness. Results revealed that river water had an alkaline aquatic environment with a mean pH value of 8.00. The mean ion concentration was ranked as follows: Ca2+>SO42->Na+>NO3->Mg2+>K+>Cl->F->NH4+>Li+. Ca2+, SO42-, Na+, and NO3- occupied 83% of the total ion concentration. In addition, compared with other seasons, the spatial variation of the ion concentration in spring was obvious. An analysis of the sources of major ions revealed that these ions originated mainly from carbonate dissolution and silicate weathering. The recharge impact of precipitation and snowmelt merely influenced the concentration of Cl-, NO3-, SO42-, Ca2+, and Na+. Overall, river water was in pristine condition in terms of quality and was suitable for both irrigation and drinking. This study provides a scientific basis for sustainable management of water quality in rivers of the Altay Mountains.

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Monitoring vegetation drought in the nine major river basins of China based on a new developed Vegetation Drought Condition Index
ZHAO Lili, LI Lusheng, LI Yanbin, ZHONG Huayu, ZHANG Fang, ZHU Junzhen, DING Yibo
Journal of Arid Land    2023, 15 (12): 1421-1438.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-023-0072-x
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The effect of global climate change on vegetation growth is variable. Timely and effective monitoring of vegetation drought is crucial for understanding its dynamics and mitigation, and even regional protection of ecological environments. In this study, we constructed a new drought index (i.e., Vegetation Drought Condition Index (VDCI)) based on precipitation, potential evapotranspiration, soil moisture and Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) data, to monitor vegetation drought in the nine major river basins (including the Songhua River and Liaohe River Basin, Haihe River Basin, Yellow River Basin, Huaihe River Basin, Yangtze River Basin, Southeast River Basin, Pearl River Basin, Southwest River Basin and Continental River Basin) in China at 1-month-12-month (T1-T12) time scales. We used the Pearson's correlation coefficients to assess the relationships between the drought indices (the developed VDCI and traditional drought indices including the Standardized Precipitation Evapotranspiration Index (SPEI), Standardized Soil Moisture Index (SSMI) and Self-calibrating Palmer Drought Severity Index (scPDSI)) and the NDVI at T1-T12 time scales, and to estimate and compare the lag times of vegetation response to drought among different drought indices. The results showed that precipitation and potential evapotranspiration have positive and major influences on vegetation in the nine major river basins at T1-T6 time scales. Soil moisture shows a lower degree of negative influence on vegetation in different river basins at multiple time scales. Potential evapotranspiration shows a higher degree of positive influence on vegetation, and it acts as the primary influencing factor with higher area proportion at multiple time scales in different river basins. The VDCI has a stronger relationship with the NDVI in the Songhua River and Liaohe River Basin, Haihe River Basin, Yellow River Basin, Huaihe River Basin and Yangtze River Basin at T1-T4 time scales. In general, the VDCI is more sensitive (with shorter lag time of vegetation response to drought) than the traditional drought indices (SPEI, scPDSI and SSMI) in monitoring vegetation drought, and thus it could be applied to monitor short-term vegetation drought. The VDCI developed in the study can reveal the law of unclear mechanisms between vegetation and climate, and can be applied in other fields of vegetation drought monitoring with complex mechanisms.

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Remote sensing monitoring of the recent rapid increase in cultivation activities and its effects on desertification in the Mu Us Desert, China
ZHAO Hongyan, YAN Changzhen, LI Sen, WANG Yahui
Journal of Arid Land    2023, 15 (7): 812-826.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-023-0061-0
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The recent ecological improvement in the Mu Us Desert of China, largely attributed to large-scale afforestation projects, has created new opportunities for cultivation activities. However, the subsequent rapid increase in reclamation on desertification land and its impact on desertification have raised concerns. In this study, we first extracted data on cultivated land and desertification land in 1975, 1990, 2000, 2005, 2010, 2015, and 2020 through the human-computer interaction visual interpretation method. By overlaying the cultivated land dynamics and desertification land, we subsequently explored the effect of cultivation activities on desertification in the Mu Us Desert during the six periods from 1975 to 2020 (1975-1990, 1990-2000, 2000-2005, 2005-2010, 2010-2015, and 2015-2020). The results showed that cultivated land in the Mu Us Desert showed a fluctuating and increasing trend from 3769.26 km2 in 1975 to 4865.73 km2 in 2020, with 2010 as the turning point for the recent rapid increase. The main contributors included the large and regular patches distributed in Yuyang District and Shenmu of Shaanxi Province, and relatively smaller patches concentrated in Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. The increased cultivated land from the reclamation on desertification land was dominated by moderate and severe desertification lands, and the decreased cultivated land that was transferred into desertification land as abandoned cultivated land was dominated by slight and moderate desertification lands. The effect of cultivation activities on desertification reversal (average area proportion of 10.61% for reversed desertification land) was greater than that of the development of desertification (average area proportion of 5.82% for developed desertification land). Nevertheless, compared to reversed desertification land, both the significant increase of developed desertification land during the periods of 2000-2005 and 2005-2010 and the insignificant decrease during the periods of 2005-2010, 2010-2015, and 2015-2020 implied a potential remobilization risk. Therefore, this study provides a significant theoretical reference for the formulation of ecological restoration projects and regional macroeconomic development policies by considering the influence of cultivation activities, to ensure the overall environmental stability and sustainability in desertification land where reclamation and abandonment activities have taken place.

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