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Monitoring the impact of climate change andhuman activities on grassland vegetation dynamics in the northeastern Qinghai-Tibet Plateauof China during 2000-2015
Qinli XIONG, Yang XIAO, Waseem A HALMY Marwa, A DAKHIL Mohammed, Pinghan LIANG, Chenggang LIU, Lin ZHANG, PANDEY Bikram, Kaiwen PAN, B EL KAFRAWAY Sameh, Jun CHEN
Journal of Arid Land    2019, 11 (5): 637-651.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-019-0061-2
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Climate change and human activities can influence vegetation net primary productivity (NPP), a key component of natural ecosystems. The Qinghai-Tibet Plateau of China, in spite of its significant natural and cultural values, is one of the most susceptible regions to climate change and human disturbancesin the world. To assess the impact of climate change and human activities on vegetation dynamics in the grassland ecosystems ofthe northeastern Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, we applied a time-series trend analysis to normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) datasets from 2000 to 2015 and compared these spatiotemporal variations with trends in climatic variables over the same time period. The constrained ordination approach (redundancy analysis) was used to determine which climatic variables or human-related factors mostly in?uenced the variation of NDVI. Furthermore, in order to determine whether current conservation measures and programs are effectivein ecological protection and reconstruction, we divided the northeastern Qinghai-Tibet Plateau into two parts: the Three-River Headwater conservation area (TRH zone) in the south and the non-conservation area (NTRH zone) in the north. The results indicatedan overall (73.32%)increasing trend of vegetation NPP in grasslands throughout the study area. During the period 2000-2015, NDVI in the TRH and NTRH zones increased at the rates of 0.0015/aand 0.0020/a, respectively.Specifically, precipitation accounted for 9.2% of the total variation in NDVI, while temperature accounted for 13.4%. In addition, variation in vegetation NPP of grasslands responded not only to long- and short-term changes in climate, as conceptualized in non-equilibrium theory, but also to the impact of human activities and their associated perturbations. The redundancy analysis successfully separated the relative contributions of climate change and human activities, of whichvillage populationand agricultural gross domestic product were the two most important contributors to the NDVI changes, explaining 17.8% and 17.1% of the total variationof NDVI (with the total contribution >30.0%), respectively. The total contributionpercentages of climate change and human activitiesto the NDVI variation were27.5% and 34.9%, respectively, inthe northeastern Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. Finally, our study shows that the grassland restoration in the study area was enhanced by protection measures and programs in the TRH zone, which explained 7.6% of the total variation in NDVI.

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Prediction of meteorological drought in arid and semi-arid regions using PDSI and SDSM: a case study in Fars Province, Iran
Sheida DEHGHAN, Nasrin SALEHNIA, Nasrin SAYARI, Bahram BAKHTIARI
Journal of Arid Land    2020, 12 (2): 318-330.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-020-0095-5
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Drought is one of the most significant environmental disasters, especially in arid and semi-arid regions. Drought indices as a tool for management practices seeking to deal with the drought phenomenon are widely used around the world. One of these indicators is the Palmer drought severity index (PDSI), which is used in many parts of the world to assess the drought situation and continuation. In this study, the drought state of Fars Province in Iran was evaluated by using the PDSI over 1995-2014 according to meteorological data from six weather stations in the province. A statistical downscaling model (SDSM) was used to apply the output results of the general circulation model in Fars Province. To implement data processing and prediction of climate data, a statistical period 1995-2014 was considered as the monitoring period, and a statistical period 2019-2048 was for the prediction period. The results revealed that there is a good agreement between the simulated precipitation (R2>0.63; R2, determination coefficient; MAE<0.52; MAE, mean absolute error; RMSE<0.56; RMSE, Root Mean Squared Error) and temperature (R2>0.95, MAE<1.74, and RMSE<1.78) with the observed data from the stations. The results of the drought monitoring model presented that dry periods would increase over the next three decades as compared to the historical data. The studies showed the highest drought in the meteorological stations Abadeh and Lar during the prediction period under two future scenarios representative concentration pathways (RCP4.5 and RCP8.5). According to the results of the validation periods and efficiency criteria, we suggest that the SDSM is a proper tool for predicting drought in arid and semi-arid regions.

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Climate change, water resources and sustainable development in the arid and semi-arid lands of Central Asia in the past 30 years
Yang YU, Yuanyue PI, Xiang YU, Zhijie TA, Lingxiao SUN, DISSE Markus, Fanjiang ZENG, Yaoming LI, Xi CHEN, Ruide YU
Journal of Arid Land    2019, 11 (1): 1-14.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-018-0073-3
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The countries of Central Asia are collectively known as the five ''-stans'': Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan and Kazakhstan. In recent times, the Central Asian region has been affected by the shrinkage of the Aral Sea, widespread desertification, soil salinization, biodiversity loss, frequent sand storms, and many other ecological disasters. This paper is a review article based upon the collection, identification and collation of previous studies of environmental changes and regional developments in Central Asia in the past 30 years. Most recent studies have reached a consensus that the temperature rise in Central Asia is occurring faster than the global average. This warming trend will not only result in a higher evaporation in the basin oases, but also to a significant retreat of glaciers in the mountainous areas. Water is the key to sustainable development in the arid and semi-arid regions in Central Asia. The uneven distribution, over consumption, and pollution of water resources in Central Asia have caused severe water supply problems, which have been affecting regional harmony and development for the past 30 years. The widespread and significant land use changes in the 1990s could be used to improve our understanding of natural variability and human interaction in the region. There has been a positive trend of trans-border cooperation among the Central Asian countries in recent years. International attention has grown and research projects have been initiated to provide water and ecosystem protection in Central Asia. However, the agreements that have been reached might not be able to deliver practical action in time to prevent severe ecological disasters. Water management should be based on hydrographic borders and ministries should be able to make timely decisions without political intervention. Fully integrated management of water resources, land use and industrial development is essential in Central Asia. The ecological crisis should provide sufficient motivation to reach a consensus on unified water management throughout the region.

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Environmental factors influencing snowfall and snowfall prediction in the Tianshan Mountains, Northwest China
Xueting ZHANG, Xuemei LI, Lanhai LI, Shan ZHANG, Qirui QIN
Journal of Arid Land    2019, 11 (1): 15-28.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-018-0110-2
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Snowfall is one of the dominant water resources in the mountainous regions and is closely related to the development of the local ecosystem and economy. Snowfall predication plays a critical role in understanding hydrological processes and forecasting natural disasters in the Tianshan Mountains, where meteorological stations are limited. Based on climatic, geographical and topographic variables at 27 meteorological stations during the cold season (October to April) from 1980 to 2015 in the Tianshan Mountains located in Xinjiang of Northwest China, we explored the potential influence of these variables on snowfall and predicted snowfall using two methods: multiple linear regression (MLR) model (a conventional measuring method) and random forest (RF) model (a non-parametric and non-linear machine learning algorithm). We identified the primary influencing factors of snowfall by ranking the importance of eight selected predictor variables based on the relative contribution of each variable in the two models. Model simulations were compared using different performance indices and the results showed that the RF model performed better than the MLR model, with a much higher R2 value (R2=0.74; R2, coefficient of determination) and a lower bias error (RSR=0.51; RSR, the ratio of root mean square error to standard deviation of observed dataset). This indicates that the non-linear trend is more applicable for explaining the relationship between the selected predictor variables and snowfall. Relative humidity, temperature and longitude were identified as three of the most important variables influencing snowfall and snowfall prediction in both models, while elevation, aspect and latitude were of secondary importance, followed by slope and wind speed. These results will be beneficial to understand hydrological modeling and improve management and prediction of water resources in the Tianshan Mountains.

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Assessment of desertification in Eritrea: land degradation based on Landsat images
G GHEBREZGABHER Mihretab, Taibao YANG, Xuemei YANG, Congqiang WANG
Journal of Arid Land    2019, 11 (3): 319-331.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-019-0096-4
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Remote sensing is an effective way in monitoring desertification dynamics in arid and semi-arid regions. In this study, we used a decision tree method based on NDVI (normalized difference vegetation index), SAVI (soil adjusted vegetation index), and vegetation cover proportion to quantify and analyze the desertification in Eritrea using Landsat data of the 1970s, 1980s and 2014. The results demonstrate that the NDVI value and the annual mean precipitation declined while the temperature increased over the past 40 a. Strongly desertified land increased from 4.82×104 km2 (38.5%) in the 1970s to 8.38×104 km2(66.9%) in 2014: approximately 85% of the land of the countrywas under serious desertification, which significantly occurred in arid and semi-arid lowlands of the country (eastern, northern, and western lowlands)withrelatively scarce precipitation and high temperature. The non-desertified area, mostly located in the sub-humid eastern escarpment, also declined from approximately 2.1% to 0.5%. The study concludes that the desertification is a cause of serious land degradation in Eritrea and may link to climate changes, such as low and unpredictable precipitation, and prolonged drought.

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Drought trend analysis in a semi-arid area of Iraq based on Normalized Difference Vegetation Index, Normalized Difference Water Index and Standardized Precipitation Index
Ayad M F AL-QURAISHI, Heman A GAZNAYEE, Mattia CRESPI
Journal of Arid Land    2021, 13 (4): 413-430.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-021-0062-9
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Drought was a severe recurring phenomenon in Iraq over the past two decades due to climate change despite the fact that Iraq has been one of the most water-rich countries in the Middle East in the past. The Iraqi Kurdistan Region (IKR) is located in the north of Iraq, which has also suffered from extreme drought. In this study, the drought severity status in Sulaimaniyah Province, one of four provinces of the IKR, was investigated for the years from 1998 to 2017. Thus, Landsat time series dataset, including 40 images, were downloaded and used in this study. The Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) and the Normalized Difference Water Index (NDWI) were utilized as spectral-based drought indices and the Standardized Precipitation Index (SPI) was employed as a meteorological-based drought index, to assess the drought severity and analyse the changes of vegetative cover and water bodies. The study area experienced precipitation deficiency and severe drought in 1999, 2000, 2008, 2009, and 2012. Study findings also revealed a drop in the vegetative cover by 33.3% in the year 2000. Furthermore, the most significant shrinkage in water bodies was observed in the Lake Darbandikhan (LDK), which lost 40.5% of its total surface area in 2009. The statistical analyses revealed that precipitation was significantly positively correlated with the SPI and the surface area of the LDK (correlation coefficients of 0.92 and 0.72, respectively). The relationship between SPI and NDVI-based vegetation cover was positive but not significant. Low precipitation did not always correspond to vegetative drought; the delay of the effect of precipitation on NDVI was one year.

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Assessing land transformation and associated degradation of the west part of Ganga River Basin using forest cover land use mapping and residual trend analysis
MATIN Shafique, GHOSH Sujit, D BEHERA Mukunda
Journal of Arid Land    2019, 11 (1): 29-42.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-018-0106-y
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The west part of Ganga River Basin (WGRB) has experienced continuous land transformation since the Indus Valley Civilisation shifted from the Indus basin to the Ganga basin. Particularly in the last few decades the land transformation has increased many-folds due to the changing climate and rapid increase in population. In this paper, we assessed land transformation and associated degradation in the WGRB based on the forest cover land use (FCLU) mapping and residual trend analysis (RTA). The FCLU maps for 1975 and 2010 were generated using 216 Landsat satellite images and validated using 1509 ground points. We mapped 29 forest and 18 non-forest types and estimated a total loss of 5571 km2 forest cover and expansion in settlement areas (5396 km2). Other major changes mapped include a decrease in wetlands and water bodies, while an increase in agriculture and barren lands with an overall mapping accuracy of 85.3% (kappa, 0.82) and 88.43% (kappa, 0.84) for 1975 and 2010, respectively. We also performed the RTA analysis using GIMMS-NDVI3g to identify areas of significant negative vegetative photosynthetic change as an indicator for land degradation. All the RTA models showed monotonic nature of the residual trends and resulted as moderately positive but highly significant (P<0.001). Land degradation in the form of barren land accompanied by a decline in vegetation quality and coverage was found prominent in the basin with a possibility of an accelerated rate of land degradation in future due to the rapid loss of permanent forest cover.

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Hydrological and water cycle processes of inland river basins in the arid region of Northwest China
Yaning CHEN, Baofu LI, Yuting FAN, Congjian SUN, Gonghuan FANG
Journal of Arid Land    2019, 11 (2): 161-179.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-019-0050-5
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The increasing shortage in water resources is a key factor affecting sustainable socio-economic development in the arid region of Northwest China (ARNC). Water shortages also affect the stability of the region's oasis ecosystem. This paper summarizes the hydrological processes and water cycle of inland river basins in the ARNC, focusing on the following aspects: the spatial-temporal features of water resources (including air water vapor resources, runoff, and glacial meltwater) and their driving forces; the characteristics of streamflow composition in the inland river basins; the characteristics and main controlling factors of baseflow in the inland rivers; and anticipated future changes in hydrological processes and water resources. The results indicate that: (1) although the runoff in most inland rivers in the ARNC showed a significant increasing trend, both the glaciated area and glacial ice reserves have been reduced in the mountains; (2) snow melt and glacier melt are extremely important hydrological processes in the ARNC, especially in the Kunlun and Tianshan mountains; (3) baseflow in the inland rivers of the ARNC is the result of climate change and human activities, with the main driving factors being the reduction in forest area and the over-exploitation and utilization of groundwater in the river basins; and (4) the contradictions among water resources, ecology and economy will further increase in the future. The findings of this study might also help strengthen the ecological, economic and social sustainable development in the study region.

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Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi ameliorate the chemical properties and enzyme activities of rhizosphere soil in reclaimed mining subsidence in northwestern China
Lang QIU, Yinli BI, Bin JIANG, Zhigang WANG, Yanxu ZHANG, ZHAKYPBEK Yryszhan
Journal of Arid Land    2019, 11 (1): 135-147.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-018-0019-9
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In semi-arid region of northwestern China, underground mining subsidence often results in decreased vegetation coverage, impoverishment of soil fertility and water stress. In addition, the physical-chemical and biological properties of soil also change, resulting in more susceptible to degradation. In particular, subsidence causes disturbance of the symbioses of plant and microbe that can play a beneficial role in the establishment of vegetation communities in degraded ecosystems. The objective of this study was to evaluate the effects of revegetation with exotic arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) inoculum on the chemical and biological properties of soil over time in mining subsidence areas. Soils were sampled at a depth up to 30 cm in the adjacent rhizosphere of Amorpha fruticose Linn. from five reclaimed vegetation communities in northwestern China. In August 2015, a field trial was set up with five historical revegetation experiments established in 2008 (7-year), 2011 (4-year), 2012 (3-year), 2013 (2-year) and 2014 (1-year), respectively. Each reclamation experiment included two treatments, i.e., revegetation with exotic AMF inoculum (AMF) and non-AMF inoculum (the control). Root mycorrhizal colonization, glomalin-related soil protein (GRSP), soil organic carbon (SOC), soil nutrients, and enzyme activities were also assessed. The results showed that mycorrhizal colonization of inoculated plants increased by 33.3%-163.0% compared to that of non-inoculated plants (P<0.05). Revegetation with exotic AMF inoculum also significantly improved total GRSR (T-GRSP) and easily extracted GRSP (EE-GRSP) concentrations compared to control, besides the T-GRSP in 1-year experiment and the EE-GRSP in 2-year experiment. A significant increase in SOC content was only observed in 7-year AMF reclaimed soils compared to non-AMF reclaimed soils. Soil total N (TN), Olsen phosphorus (P) and available potassium (K) were significantly higher in inoculated soil after 1-7 years of reclamation (except for individual cases), and increased with reclamation time (besides soil Olsen P). The exotic AMF inoculum markedly increased the average soil invertase, catalase, urease and alkaline phosphatase by 23.8%, 21.3%, 18.8% and 8.6%, respectively (P<0.01), compared with the control. Root mycorrhizal colonization was positively correlated with soil parameters (SOC, TN and soil available K) and soil enzyme activities (soil invertase, catalase, urease and alkaline phosphatase) in both AMF and non-AMF reclaimed soils (P<0.05), excluding available K in non-AMF reclaimed soils. T-GRSP (P<0.01) and EE-GRSP (P<0.05) were significantly correlated with the majority of edaphic factors, except for soil Olsen P. The positive correlation between root mycorrhizal colonization and available K was observed in AMF reclaimed soils, indicating that the AMF reclaimed soil with a high root mycorrhizal colonization could potentially accumulate available K in soils. Our findings concluded that revegetation with exotic AMF inoculum influenced soil nutrient availability and enzyme activities in the semi-arid ecosystem, suggesting that inoculating AMF can be an effective method to improve soil fertility and support restoration of vegetation communities under poor conditions like soil nutrient deficiency and drought.

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Estimation of spatial and temporal changes in net primary production based on Carnegie Ames Stanford Approach (CASA) model in semi-arid rangelands of SemiromCounty, Iran
HADIAN Fatemeh, JAFARI Reza, BASHARI Hossein, TARTESH Mostafa, D CLARKE Kenneth
Journal of Arid Land    2019, 11 (4): 477-494.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-019-0060-3
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Net primary production (NPP) is an indicator of rangeland ecosystem function. This research assessed the potential of the Carnegie Ames Stanford Approach (CASA) model for estimating NPP and its spatial and temporal changes in semi-arid rangelands of Semirom County, Iran. Using CASA model, we estimated the NPP values based on monthly climate data and the normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) obtained from the MODIS sensor. Regression analysis was then applied to compare the estimated production data with observed production data. The spatial and temporal changes in NPP and light utilization efficiency (LUE) were investigated in different rangeland vegetation types. The standardized precipitation index (SPI) was also calculated at different time scales and the correlation of SPI with NPP changes was determined. The results indicated that the estimated NPP values varied from 0.00 to 74.48 g C/(m2?a). The observed and estimated NPP values had different correlations, depending on rangeland conditions and vegetation types. The highest and lowest correlations were respectively observed in Astragalus spp.-Agropyronspp. rangeland (R2=0.75) with good condition and Gundeliaspp.-Cousiniaspp. rangeland (R2=0.36) with poor and very poor conditions. The maximum and minimum LUE values were found in Astragalus spp.-Agropyronspp. rangeland (0.117 g C/MJ) with good condition and annual grasses-annual forbs rangeland (0.010 g C/MJ), respectively. According to the correlations between SPI and NPP changes, the effects of drought periods on NPP depended on vegetation types and rangeland conditions. Annual plants had the highest drought sensitivity while shrubs exhibited the lowest drought sensitivity. The positive effects of wet periods on NPP were less evident in degraded areas where the destructive effects of drought were more prominent. Therefore, determining vegetation types and rangeland conditions is essential in NPP estimation. The findings of this study confirmed the potential of the CASA for estimating rangeland production. Therefore, the model output maps can be used to evaluate, monitor and optimize rangeland management in semi-arid rangelands of Iran where MODIS NPP products are not available.

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Hydrological and economic feasibility of mitigating a stressed coastal aquifer using managed aquifer recharge: a case study of Jamma aquifer, Oman
EL-RAWY Mustafa, AL-MAKTOUMI Ali, ZEKRI Slim, ABDALLA Osman, AL-ABRI Rashid
Journal of Arid Land    2019, 11 (1): 148-159.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-019-0093-7
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This study explored the hydrological and economic feasibility of managed aquifer recharge (MAR) using tertiary treated wastewater (TWW) to mitigate salinity in the coastal aquifer of Jamma, Oman. A steady-state groundwater flow and transport model, using MODFLOW software, was developed and calibrated. Different managerial scenarios were simulated and the results reveal that the Jamma aquifer will be further deteriorated in the next 20 a if it remains unmanaged. The groundwater table will decline further by more than 3 m on average; and the iso-concentration salinity line of 1500 mg/L will advance 2.7 km inland, which will severely affect the farming activities in the area. However, MAR using TWW when integrated with the management of groundwater abstraction (e.g., using modern irrigation systems to reduce the abstraction rate) becomes hydrologically feasible to augment the aquifer storage and control seawater intrusion, and hence improves the farming activities. The results indicate that: (1) injecting TWW in the vicinity of irrigation wells (Scenario A2); (2) investing in smart water meters and online control of pumping from the wells to reduce the abstraction rate by 25% (Scenario B); and (3) a combination of both (Scenario B2) are feasible scenarios with positive net present values. Recharge in upstream areas is found not economically feasible because of the very high investment cost of the installation of pipes to transport the TWW over a distance of 12.5 km. Because of securing funds are challenging, Scenario B would be the best option and the second-best option is Scenario A2. Scenario B2 has the lowest net benefit investment ratio and is very attractive because it entails integrated demand and supply management of groundwater. It is required to reduce pumping and to invest in injecting TWW to improve groundwater quality in the vicinity of irrigation wells and to form a hydrological barrier to control seawater intrusion in the long run.

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Changes in soil microbial community response to precipitation events in a semi-arid steppe of the Xilin River Basin, China
Hui ZHANG, Wenjun LIU, Xiaoming KANG, Xiaoyong CUI, Yanfen WANG, Haitao ZHAO, Xiaoqing QIAN, Yanbin HAO
Journal of Arid Land    2019, 11 (1): 97-110.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-018-0071-5
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In the context of climate change, precipitation is predicted to become more intense at the global scale. Such change may alter soil microbial communities and the microbially mediated carbon and nitrogen dynamics. In this study, we experimentally repackaged precipitation patterns during the growing season (from June to September) of 2012 in a semi-arid temperate steppe of the Xilin River Basin in Inner Mongolia of China, based on the 60-year growing season precipitation data. Specifically, a total amount of 240 mm simulated precipitation was assigned to experimental plots by taking the following treatments: (1) P6 (6 extreme precipitation events, near the 1st percentile); (2) P10 (10 extreme precipitation events, near the 5th percentile); (3) P16 (16 moderate precipitation events, near the 50th percentile); and (4) P24 (24 events, 60-year average precipitation, near the 50th percentile). At the end of the growing season, we analyzed soil microbial community structure and biomass, bacterial abundance, fungal abundance and bacterial composition, by using phospholipid fatty acid (PLFA), real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction (RT-qPCR) and 16S rRNA gene clone library methods. The extreme precipitation events did not change soil microbial community structure (represented by the ratio of PLFA concentration in fungi to PLFA concentration in bacteria, and the ratio of PLFA concentration in gram-positive bacterial biomass to PLFA concentration in gram-negative bacterial biomass). However, the extreme precipitation events significantly increased soil microbial activity (represented by soil microbial biomass nitrogen and soil bacterial 16S rRNA gene copy numbers). Soil fungal community showed no significant response to precipitation events. According to the redundancy analysis, both soil microbial biomass nitrogen and soil ammonium nitrogen (NH4-N) were found to be significant in shaping soil microbial community. Acidobacteria, Actinobacteria and Proteobacteria were the dominant phyla in soil bacterial composition, and responded differently to the extreme precipitation events. Based on the results, we concluded that the extreme precipitation events altered the overall soil microbial activity, but did not impact how the processes would occur, since soil microbial community structure remained unchanged.

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Abrupt temperature change and a warming hiatus from 1951 to 2014 in Inner Mongolia, China
Long MA, Hongyu LI, Tingxi LIU, Longteng LIANG
Journal of Arid Land    2019, 11 (2): 192-207.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-019-0100-z
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An abrupt temperature change and a warming hiatus have strongly influenced the global climate. This study focused on these changes in Inner Mongolia, China. This study used the central clustering method, Mann-Kendall mutation test and other methods to explore the abrupt temperature change and warming hiatus in three different temperature zones of the study region based on average annual data series. Among the temperature metrics investigated, average minimum temperature (Tnav) shifted the earliest, followed by average temperature (Tnv) and average maximum temperature (Txav). The latest change was observed in summer (1990s), whereas the earliest was observed in winter (1970s). Before and after the abrupt temperature change, Tnavfluctuatedconsiderably, whereas there was only a slight change in Txav. Before and after the abrupt temperature change, the winter temperature changed more dramatically than the summer temperature. Before the abrupt temperature change, Tnav in the central region (0.322°C/10a) and west region (0.48°C/10a) contributed the most to the increasing temperatures. After the abrupt temperature change, Tnav in winter in the central region (0.519°C/10a) and in autumn in the west region (0.729°C/10a) contributed the most to the temperature increases. Overall, in the years in which temperature shifts occurred early, a warming hiatus also appeared early. The three temperature metrics in spring (1991) in the east region were the first to exhibit a warming hiatus. In the east region, Txav displayed the lowest rate of increase (0.412°C/a) in the period after the abrupt temperature change and before the warming hiatus, and the highest rate of increase after the warming hiatus.

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Spatial and temporal patterns of drought in Zambia
LIBANDA Brigadier, Mie ZHENG, NGONGA Chilekana
Journal of Arid Land    2019, 11 (2): 180-191.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-019-0053-2
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Drought acutely affects economic sectors, natural habitats and communities. Understanding the past spatial and temporal patterns of drought is crucial because it facilitates the forecasting of future drought occurrences and informs decision-making processes for possible adaptive measures. This is especially important in view of a changing climate. This study employed the World Meteorological Organization (WMO)-recommended standardized precipitation index (SPI) to investigate the spatial and temporal patterns of drought in Zambia from 1960 to 2016. The relationship between the occurrence of consecutive dry days (CDD; consecutive days with less than 1 mm of precipitation) and SPI was also investigated. Horizontal wind vectors at 850 hPa during the core of the rainy season (December-February) were examined to ascertain the patterns of flow during years of extreme and severe drought; and these were contrasted with the patterns of flow in 2007, which was a generally wet year. Pressure vertical velocity was also investigated. Based on the gamma distribution, SPI successfully categorized extremely dry (with a SPI value less than or equal to -2.0) years over Zambia as 1992 and 2015, a severely dry (-1.9 to -1.5) year as 1995, moderately dry (-1.4 to -1.0) years as 1972, 1980, 1987, 1999 and 2005, and 26 near normal years (-0.9 to 0.9). The occurrence of CDD was found to be strongly negatively correlated with SPI with a coefficient of -0.6. Further results suggest that, during wet years, Zambia is influenced by a clockwise circulating low-pressure zone over the south-eastern Angola, a second such zone over the northern and eastern parts, and a third over the Indian Ocean. In stark contrast, years of drought were characterized by an anti-clockwise circulating high-pressure zone over the south-western parts of Zambia, constraining precipitation activities over the country. Further, wet years were characterized by negative pressure vertical velocity anomalies, signifying ascending motion; while drought years were dominated by positive anomalies, signifying descending motion, which suppresses precipitation. These patterns can be used to forecast drought over Zambia and aid in strategic planning to limit the potential damage of drought.

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Variation and heritability of morphological and physiological traits among Leymus chinensis genotypes under different environmental conditions
Xue YANG, Junpeng LI, Tingting ZHAO, Lidong MO, Jianli ZHANG, Huiqin REN, Nianxi ZHAO, Yubao GAO
Journal of Arid Land    2019, 11 (1): 66-74.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-018-0018-x
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Intraspecific trait variation and heritability in different environmental conditions not only suggest a potential for an evolutionary response but also have important ecological consequences at the population, community, and ecosystem levels. However, the contribution of quantitative trait variation within a grassland species to evolutionary responses or ecological consequences is seldom documented. Leymus chinensis is an important dominant species in semi-arid grasslands of China, which has seriously suffered from drought and high temperature stresses in recent decades. In the present study, we measured variation and heritability of 10 quantitative traits, namely the number of tillers, maximum shoot height, number of rhizomes, maximum rhizome length, rhizome mass, aboveground mass, root mass, maximum net photosynthetic rate (Pmax), specific leaf area (SLA), and leaf length to leaf width ratio (LL/LW), for 10 genotypes of L. chinensis under one non-stress (Ck) condition and three environmental stress conditions (i.e., drought (Dr), high temperature (Ht), and both drought and high temperature (DrHt)). Result indicated that (1) the interaction of genotype and environmental condition (G×E) was significant for 6 traits but not significant for the other 4 traits as shown by two-way analysis of variance (ANOVA), suggesting that different selection forces were placed for different traits on the factors dominating phenotypic responses to different environmental conditions. Moreover, these significant G×E effects on traits indicated significantly different phenotypic adaptive responses among L. chinensis genotypes to different environmental conditions. Additionally, individuals could be grouped according to environmental condition rather than genotype as shown by canonical discriminant analysis, indicating that environmental condition played a more important role in affecting phenotypic variation than genotype; (2) by one-way ANOVA, significant differences among L. chinensis genotypes were found in all 10 traits under Ck and Dr conditions, in 8 traits under DrHt condition and only in 4 traits under Ht condition; and (3) all 10 traits showed relatively low or non-measurable broad-sense heritability (H2) under stress conditions. However, the lowest H2 value for most traits did not occur under DrHt condition, which supported the hypothesis of 'unfavorable conditions have unpredictable effects' rather than 'unfavorable conditions decrease heritability'. Results from our experiment might aid to improve predictions on the potential impacts of climate changes on L. chinensis and eventually species conservation and ecosystem restoration.

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Spatio-temporal dynamics of vegetation in Jungar Banner of China during 2000-2017
LI Xinhui, LEI Shaogang, CHENG Wei, LIU Feng, WANG Weizhong
Journal of Arid Land    2019, 11 (6): 837-854.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-019-0067-9
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It is known that the exploitation of opencast coal mines has seriously damaged the environments in the semi-arid areas. Vegetation status can reliably reflect the ecological degeneration and restoration in the opencast mining areas in the semi-arid areas. Long-time series MODIS NDVI data are widely used to simulate the vegetation cover to reflect the disturbance and restoration of local ecosystems. In this study, both qualitative (linear regression method and coefficient of variation (CoV)) and quantitative (spatial buffer analysis, and change amplitude and the rate of change in the average NDVI) analyses were conducted to analyze the spatio-temporal dynamics of vegetation during 2000-2017 in Jungar Banner of Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, China, at the large (Jungar Banner and three mine groups) and small (three types of functional areas: opencast coal mining excavation areas, reclamation areas and natural areas) scales. The results show that the rates of change in the average NDVI in the reclamation areas (20%-60%) and opencast coal mining excavation areas (10%-20%) were considerably higher than that in the natural areas (<7%). The vegetation in the reclamation areas experienced a trend of increase (3-5 a after reclamation)-decrease (the sixth year of reclamation)-stability. The vegetation in Jungar Banner has a spatial heterogeneity under the influences of mining and reclamation activities. The ratio of vegetation improvement area to vegetation degradation area in the west, southwest and east mine groups during 2000-2017 was 8:1, 20:1 and 33:1, respectively. The regions with the high CoV of NDVI above 0.45 were mainly distributed around the opencast coal mining excavation areas, and the regions with the CoV of NDVI above 0.25 were mostly located in areas with low (28.8%) and medium-low (10.2%) vegetation cover. The average disturbance distances of mining activities on vegetation in the three mine groups (west, southwest and east) were 800, 800 and 1000 m, respectively. The greater the scale of mining, the farther the disturbance distances of mining activities on vegetation. We conclude that vegetation reclamation will certainly compensate for the negative impacts of opencast coal mining activities on vegetation. Sufficient attention should be paid to the proportional allocation of plant species (herbs and shrubs) in the reclamation areas, and the restored vegetation in these areas needs to be protected for more than 6 a. Then, as the repair time increased, the vegetation condition of the reclamation areas would exceed that of the natural areas.

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Phenotypic plasticity of Artemisia ordosica seedlings in response to different levels of calcium carbonate in soil
Pingping XUE, Xuelai ZHAO, Yubao GAO, Xingdong HE
Journal of Arid Land    2019, 11 (1): 58-65.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-018-0072-4
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Plant phenotypic plasticity is a common feature that is crucial for explaining interspecific competition, dynamics and biological evolution of plant communities. In this study, we tested the effects of soil CaCO3 (calcium carbonate) on the phenotypic plasticity of a psammophyte, Artemisia ordosica, an important plant species on sandy lands in arid and semi-arid areas of China, by performing pot experiments under different CaCO3 contents with a two-factor randomized block design and two orthogonal designs. We analyzed the growth responses (including plant height, root length, shoot-leaf biomass and root biomass) of A. ordosica seedlings to different soil CaCO3 contents. The results revealed that, with a greater soil CaCO3 content, A. ordosica seedlings gradually grew more slowly, with their relative growth rates of plant height, root length, shoot-leaf biomass and root biomass all decreasing significantly. Root N/P ratios showed significant negative correlations with the relative growth rates of plant height, shoot-leaf biomass and root length of A. ordosica seedlings; however, the relative growth rate of root length increased significantly with the root P concentration increased, showing a positive correlation. These results demonstrate that soil CaCO3 reduces the local P availability in soil, which produces a non-adaptive phenotypic plasticity to A. ordosica seedlings. This study should prove useful for planning and promoting the restoration of damaged/degraded vegetation in arid and semi-arid areas of China.

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Eco-physiological studies on desert plants: germination of Halothamnus iraqensis Botsch. seeds under different conditions
BHATT Arvind, R BHAT Narayana, MURRU Valentina, SANTO Andrea
Journal of Arid Land    2019, 11 (1): 75-85.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-019-0121-7
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With the aim to investigate if the halophyte HalothamnusiraqensisBotsch.can be suitable for re-vegetation and remediation of salt-affected lands, this study evaluated(1) the effects of photoperiod, thermoperiod, storage period and wings' presenceon its seed germination, and (2) the ability of its seeds to have successful germination recovery after salt stress. Germination tests in different photoperiods (12 hlight/12 h darkness and total darkness) and thermoperiods (15°C/20°C and 20°C/25°C) were conducted for seeds collected in 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and2016. The seeds collected in 2016 were sown under different salinity levels(0, 100, 200, 400 and 600 mMNaCl)to assess the salinity tolerance during the germination. Wings' presence highly inhibited seed germination of this species in both photoperiods andthermoperiodsunder all salinity level treatments. In addition, the germination recovery occurred well when seeds were deprived of their wings. The photoperiod of 12 h light/12 h darkness and the thermoperiodof 15°C/20°Cwere the best conditions for seed germination. Germination percentages of H. iraqensis seeds decreased with the increasing storage duration, especially after three years of the collection.In addition, H. iraqensisseeds were able to germinate under different salinity levels, and their germination percentages decreased with increasing salinity levels. H. iraqensisseeds have the ability to recover their germinationafteralleviating the salt stress, irrespective of photoperiod, highlighting the halophilous character of this species.

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Spatial and temporal change patterns of net primary productivity and its response to climate change in the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau of China from 2000 to 2015
GUO Bing, ZANG Wenqian, YANG Fei, HAN Baomin, CHEN Shuting, LIU Yue, YANG Xiao, HE Tianli, CHEN Xi, LIU Chunting, GONG Rui
Journal of Arid Land    2020, 12 (1): 1-17.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-019-0070-1
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The vegetation ecosystem of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau in China, considered to be the ′′natural laboratory′′ of climate change in the world, has undergone profound changes under the stress of global change. Herein, we analyzed and discussed the spatial-temporal change patterns and the driving mechanisms of net primary productivity (NPP) in the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau from 2000 to 2015 based on the gravity center and correlation coefficient models. Subsequently, we quantitatively distinguished the relative effects of climate change (such as precipitation, temperature and evapotranspiration) and human activities (such as grazing and ecological construction) on the NPP changes using scenario analysis and Miami model based on the MOD17A3 and meteorological data. The average annual NPP in the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau showed a decreasing trend from the southeast to the northwest during 2000-2015. With respect to the inter-annual changes, the average annual NPP exhibited a fluctuating upward trend from 2000 to 2015, with a steep increase observed in 2005 and a high fluctuation observed from 2005 to 2015. In the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, the regions with the increase in NPP (change rate higher than 10%) were mainly concentrated in the Three-River Source Region, the northern Hengduan Mountains, the middle and lower reaches of the Yarlung Zangbo River, and the eastern parts of the North Tibet Plateau, whereas the regions with the decrease in NPP (change rate lower than -10%) were mainly concentrated in the upper reaches of the Yarlung Zangbo River and the Ali Plateau. The gravity center of NPP in the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau has moved southwestward during 2000-2015, indicating that the increment and growth rate of NPP in the southwestern part is greater than those of NPP in the northeastern part. Further, a significant correlation was observed between NPP and climate factors in the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. The regions exhibiting a significant correlation between NPP and precipitation were mainly located in the central and eastern Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, and the regions exhibiting a significant correlation between NPP and temperature were mainly located in the southern and eastern Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. Furthermore, the relative effects of climate change and human activities on the NPP changes in the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau exhibited significant spatial differences in three types of zones, i.e., the climate change-dominant zone, the human activity-dominant zone, and the climate change and human activity interaction zone. These research results can provide theoretical and methodological supports to reveal the driving mechanisms of the regional ecosystems to the global change in the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau.

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Glacier variations and their response to climate change in an arid inland river basin of Northwest China
ZHOU Zuhao, HAN Ning, LIU Jiajia, YAN Ziqi, XU Chongyu, CAI Jingya, SHANG Yizi, ZHU Jiasong
Journal of Arid Land    2020, 12 (3): 357-373.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-020-0061-2
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Glaciers are a critical freshwater resource of river recharge in arid areas around the world. In recent decades, glaciers have shown evidence of retreat due to climate change, and the accelerated ablation of glaciers and associated impacts on water resources have received widespread attention. Glacier variations result from climate change, so they can serve as an indicator of climate change. Considering the climatic differences in different elevation ranges, it is worthwhile to explore whether different responses exist between glacier area and air temperature in each elevation zone. In this study, we selected a typical arid inland river basin (Sugan Lake Basin) in the western Qilian Mountains of Northwest China to analyze the glacier variations and their response to climate change. The glacier area data from 1989 to 2016 were delineated using Landsat Thematic Mapper (TM), Enhanced TM+ (ETM+) and Operational Land Imager (OLI) images. We compared the relationships between glacier area and air temperature at seven meteorological stations in the glacier-covered areas and in the Sugan Lake Basin, and further analyzed the relationship between glacier area and mean air temperature of the glacier surfaces in July-August in the elevation range of 4700-5500 m a.s.l. by the linear regression method and correlation analysis. In addition, based on the linear regression relationship established between glacier area and air temperature in each elevation zone, we predicted glacier areas under future climate scenarios during the periods of 2046-2065 and 2081-2100. The results indicate that the glaciers experienced a remarkable shrinkage from 1989 to 2016 with a shrinkage rate of -1.61 km2/a (-0.5%/a), and the rising temperature is the decisive factor dominating glacial retreat; there is a significant negative linear correlation between glacier area and mean air temperature of the glacier surfaces in July-August in each elevation zone from 1989 to 2016. The variations in glaciers are far less sensitive to changes in precipitation than to changes in air temperature. Due to the influence of climate and topographic conditions, the distribution of glacier area and the rate of glacier ablation first increased and then decreased in different elevation zones. The trend in glacier shrinkage will continue because air temperature will continue to increase in the future, and the result of glacier retreat in each elevation zone will be slightly slower than that in the entire study area. Quantitative glacier research can more accurately reflect the response of glacier variations to climate change, and the regression relationship can be used to predict the areas of glaciers under future climate scenarios. These conclusions can offer effective references for assessing glacier variations and their response to climate change in arid inland river basins in Northwest China as well as other similar regions in the world.

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Derivation of salt content in salinized soil from hyperspectral reflectance data: A case study at Minqin Oasis, Northwest China
Tana QIAN, TSUNEKAWA Atsushi, Fei PENG, TsugiyukiMASUNAGA, Tao WANG, Rui LI
Journal of Arid Land    2019, 11 (1): 111-122.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-019-0091-9
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Soil salinization is a serious ecological and environmental problem because it adversely affects sustainable development worldwide, especially in arid and semi-aridregions. It is crucial and urgent that advanced technologies are used to efficiently and accurately assess the status of salinization processes. Case studies to determine the relations between particular types of salinization and their spectral reflectances are essential because of the distinctive characteristics of the reflectance spectra of particular salts. During April 2015 we collected surface soil samples (0-10 cm depth) at 64 field sites in the downstream area of Minqin Oasis in Northwest China, an area that is undergoing serious salinization. We developed a linear model for determination of salt content in soil from hyperspectral data as follows. First, we undertook chemical analysis of the soil samples to determine their soluble salt contents. We then measured the reflectance spectra of the soil samples, which we post-processed using a continuum-removed reflectance algorithm to enhance the absorption features and better discriminate subtle differences in spectral features. We applied a normalized difference salinity index to the continuum-removed hyperspectral data to obtain all possible waveband pairs. Correlation of the indices obtained for all of the waveband pairs with the wavebands corresponding to measured soil salinities showed that two wavebands centred at wavelengths of 1358 and 2382 nm had the highest sensitivity to salinity. We then applied the linear regression modelling to the data from half of the soil samples to develop a soil salinity index for the relationshipsbetween wavebands and laboratory measured soluble salt content. We used the hyperspectral data from the remaining samples to validate the model. The salt content in soil from Minqin Oasis were well produced by themodel. Our results indicate that wavelengths at 1358 and 2382 nm are the optimal wavebands for monitoring the concentrations of chlorine and sulphate compounds, the predominant salts at Minqin Oasis. Our modelling provides a reference for future case studies on the use of hyperspectral data for predictive quantitative estimation of salt content in soils in arid regions. Further research is warranted on the application of this method to remotely sensed hyperspectral data to investigate its potential use for large-scale mapping of the extent and severity of soil salinity.

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Mesophyll thickness and sclerophylly among Calotropis procera morphotypes reveal water-saved adaptation to environments
Marcelo F POMPELLI, Keila R MENDES, Marcio V RAMOS, José N B SANTOS, Diaa T A YOUSSEF, Jaqueline D PEREIRA, Laurício ENDRES, Alfredo JARMA-OROZCO, Rodolfo SOLANO-GOMES, Betty JARMA-ARROYO, André L J SILVA, Marcos A SANTOS, Werner C ANTUNES
Journal of Arid Land    2019, 11 (6): 795-810.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-019-0016-7
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Calotropis procera (Aiton) Dryand (Apocynaceae) is a native species in tropical and subtropical Africa and Asia. However, due to its fast growing and drought-tolerant, it has become an invasive species when it was introduced into Central and South America, as well as the Caribbean Islands. Currently, C. procera displays a wide distribution in the world. Invasiveness is important, in particular, because many invasive species exert a high reproductive pressure on the invaded communities or are highly productive in their new distributed areas. It has been suggested that a very deep root system and a high capacity to reduce stomatal conductance during water shortage could allow this species to maintain the water status required for a normal function. However, the true mechanism behind the successful distribution of C. procera across wet and dry environments is still unknown. C. procera leaves were collected from 12 natural populations in Brazil, Colombia and Mexico, ranging from wet to dry environments during 2014-2015. Many traits of morphology and anatomy from these distinct morphotypes were evaluated. We found that C. procera leaves had a considerable capacity to adjust their morphological, anatomical and physiological traits to different environments. The magnitude of acclimation responses, i.e., plasticity, had been hypothesized to reflect the specialized adaptation of plant species to a particular environment. However, allometric models for leaf area (LA) estimation cannot be grouped as a single model. Leaves are narrower and thicker with low amounts of air spaces inside the leaf parenchyma in wet environments, while they are broader and thinner with a small number of palisade cell layers in dry environments. Based on these, we argue that broader and thinner leaves of C. procera dissipate incident energy at the expense of a higher rate of transpiration to survive in environments in which water is the most limiting factor and to compete in favorable wet environments.

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Spatial variability of soil water content and related factors across the Hexi Corridor of China
Xiangdong LI, Ming'an SHAO, Chunlei ZHAO, Xiaoxu JIA
Journal of Arid Land    2019, 11 (1): 123-134.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-018-0123-x
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Soil water content (SWC) is a key factor limiting ecosystem sustainability in arid and semi-arid areas of the Hexi Corridor of China, which is characterized by an ecological environment that is vulnerable to climate change. However, there is a knowledge gap regarding the large-scale spatial distribution of SWC in this region. The specific objectives of this study were to determine the spatial distribution patterns of SWC across the Hexi Corridor and identify the factors responsible for spatial variation of SWC at a regional scale. This study collected and analyzed SWC in the 0-100 cm soil profile from 109 field sampling sites (farmland, grassland and forestland) across the Hexi Corridor in 2017. We selected 17 factors, including land use, topography (latitude, longitude, elevation, slope gradient, and slope aspect), soil properties (soil clay content, soil silt content, soil bulk density, saturated hydraulic conductivity, field capacity, and soil organic carbon content), climate factors (mean annual precipitation, potential evaporation, and aridity index), plant characteristic (vegetation coverage) and planting pattern (irrigation or rain-fed), as possible environmental variables to analyze their effects on SWC. The results showed that SWC was 0.083 (±0.067) g/g in the 0-100 cm soil profile and decreased in the order of farmland, grassland and forestland. The SWC in the upper soil layers (0-20, 20-40 and 40-60 cm) had obvious difference when the mean annual precipitation differed by 200 mm. The SWC decreased from southeast to northwest following the same pattern as precipitation, and had a moderate to strong spatial dependence in a large effective range (75-378 km). The SWC showed a similar distribution and had no significant difference between soil layers in the 0-100 cm soil profile. The principal component analysis showed that the mean annual precipitation, geographical position (longitude and latitude) and soil properties (soil bulk density and soil clay content) were the main factors dominating the variance of environmental variables. A stepwise linear regression equation showed that plant characteristic (vegetation coverage) and soil properties (soil organic carbon content, field capacity and soil clay content) were the optimal factors to predict the variation of SWC. Soil clay content could be better to explain the SWC variation in the deeper soil layers compared with the other factors.

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Interaction between climate and management on beta diversity components of vegetation in relation to soil properties in arid and semi-arid oak forests, Iran
MEHDI Heydari, FATEMEH Aazami, MARZBAN Faramarzi, REZA Omidipour, MASOUD Bazgir, DAVID Pothier, BERNARD Prévosto
Journal of Arid Land    2019, 11 (1): 43-57.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-018-0024-z
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This study aimed to investigate the interaction between regions with different climatic conditions (arid vs. semi-arid) and management (protected vs. unprotected) on the turnover and nestedness of vegetation in relation to physical, chemical and biological properties of soils in the Ilam Province of Iran. In each of the two regions, we sampled 8 sites (4 managed and 4 unmanaged sites) within each of which we established 4 circular plots (1000 m2) that were used to investigate woody species, while two micro-plots (1 m×1 m) were established in each 1000-m2 plot to analyze herbaceous species. In each sample unit, we also extracted three soil samples (0-20 cm depth) for measuring soil properties. The results indicated that the interaction between region and conservational management significantly affected the percent of canopy cover of Persian oak (Quercus brantii Linddl), soil respiration, substrate-induced respiration, as well as beta and gamma diversities and turnover of plant species. The percent of oak canopy cover was positively correlated with soil silt, electrical conductivity, available potassium, and alpha diversity, whereas it was negatively correlated with plant turnover. In addition, plant turnover was positively related to available phosphorus, while nestedness of species was positively related to organic carbon and total nitrogen. According to these results, we concluded that physical, chemical, and biological characteristics of limited ecological niche generally influenced plant diversity. Also, this study demonstrated the major contribution of the beta diversity on gamma diversity, especially in semi-arid region, because of the higher heterogeneity of vegetation in this area.

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Desert vegetationdistribution and species-environment relationshipsinan oasis-desert ecotone ofnorthwestern China
Peng ZHAO, Jianjun QU, Xianying XU, Qiushi YU, Shengxiu JIANG, Heran ZHAO
Journal of Arid Land    2019, 11 (3): 461-476.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-019-0055-0
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Environmental heterogeneity significantly affects the structure of ecological communities. Exploring vegetationdistribution and its relationship with environmental factorsis essential to understanding the abiotic mechanism(s)driving vegetation succession, especially in the ecologically fragile areas. In this study, based on the quantitative analysis of plant community and environmental factors in 68 plots at 10 different transects in the Minqin oasis-desert ecotone (ODE) of northwestern China, we investigated desert vegetation distribution and species-environment relationships using multivariate analysis.Two-way indicator species analysis (TWINSPAN), detrended correspondence analysis (DCA), and canonical correspondence analysis (CCA) methods were used. A total of 28 species, belonging to 27 genera in 8families,were identified. Chenopodiaceae, Zygophyllaceae, Gramineae, and Leguminosae were the largest families. Annual and perennial herbs accounted for 28.60% of the total number of plants, while shrubs (42.90%) werethe most dominant. Nitrariatangutorum was the constructive species of the desert plant community. We divided the 68plots surveyed in this study into 7 community types,according to the results of TWINSPAN. The distribution of these 7 communities in theDCAordination graph showed that species with a similar ecotype were clustered together. Results of CCA indicated that groundwater wasthe dominant factor influencing vegetation distribution, while distance between plot and oasis(Dis) and soil electrical conductivity (EC)were the local second-order factors. Our study suggests that optimizing the utilization of groundwater in oases is key to controlling the degradation of desert vegetation.The favorable topographic conditions of sand dunes should be fully utilized for vegetal dune stabilization, and the influence of soil salinity on the selection of afforestation tree species should be considered.

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Land cover change and eco-environmental quality response of different geomorphic units on the Chinese Loess Plateau
SONG Yongyong, XUE Dongqian, DAI Lanhai, WANG Pengtao, HUANG Xiaogang, XIA Siyou
Journal of Arid Land    2020, 12 (1): 29-43.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-019-0031-8
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Land cover in the Chinese Loess Plateau has undergone dramatic changes since the late 1980s. Revealing the trend in land cover change and eco-environmental quality response of different geomorphic units in this stage is a realistic requirement for promoting sustainable development of the Chinese Loess Plateau. Based on the data of geomorphic units and land cover in 1990, 2000, 2010 and 2018 of the Chinese Loess Plateau, we studied the trend of land cover change and eco-environmental quality response of different geomorphic units by using a significance index of land cover change, a proportion index of land cover change and an eco-environmental response model. The results indicated that from 1990 to 2018, the areas of forestland and construction land substantially increased, whereas those of cropland, grassland, wetland and unused land considerably decreased. Land cover change exhibited large geomorphic differences, and the main conversion of land cover was from cropland into other land types. Unstable trend of land cover change in the loess tablelands and sandy loess hills declined, whereas the unstable trends in the other geomorphic units enhanced. Eco-environmental quality varied among different geomorphic units. The expansion of construction land and degradation of forestland, grassland and wetland resulted in the deterioration of eco-environmental quality. The conversion of cropland and unused land into forestland and grassland, and the conversion of grassland into forestland were the main factors that drove the improvement of eco-environmental quality. The findings of this study may provide theoretical reference and support decision making for the optimization of land use structure and the improvement of eco-environmental quality on the Chinese Loess Plateau.

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Comparison of two remote sensing models for estimating evapotranspiration: algorithm evaluation and application in seasonally arid ecosystems in South Africa
DZIKITI Sebinasi, Z JOVANOVIC Nebo, DH BUGAN Richard, RAMOELO Abel, P MAJOZI Nobuhle, NICKLESS Alecia, A CHO Moses, C LE MAITRE David, NTSHIDI Zanele, H PIENAAR Harrison
Journal of Arid Land    2019, 11 (4): 495-512.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-019-0098-2
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Remote sensing tools are becoming increasingly important for providing spatial information on water use by different ecosystems. Despite significant advances in remote sensing based evapotranspiration (ET) models in recent years, important information gaps still exist on the accuracy of the models particularly in arid and semi-arid environments. In this study, we evaluated the Penman-Monteith based MOD16 and the modified Priestley-Taylor (PT-JPL) models at the daily time step against three measured ET datasets. We used data from two summer and one winter rainfall sites in South Africa. One site was dominated by native broad leaf and the other by fine leafed deciduous savanna tree species and C4 grasses. The third site was in the winter rainfall Cape region and had shrubby fynbos vegetation. Actual ET was measured using open-path eddy covariance systems at the summer rainfall sites while a surface energy balance system utilizing the large aperture boundary layer scintillometer was used in the Cape. Model performance varied between sites and between years with the worst estimates (R2<0.50 and RMSE>0.80 mm/d) observed during years with prolonged mid-summer dry spells in the summer rainfall areas. Sensitivity tests on MOD16 showed that the leaf area index, surface conductance and radiation budget parameters had the largest effect on simulated ET. MOD16 ET predictions were improved by: (1) reformulating the emissivity expressions in the net radiation equation; (2) incorporating representative surface conductance values; and (3) including a soil moisture stress function in the transpiration sub-model. Implementing these changes increased the accuracy of MOD16 daily ET predictions at all sites. However, similar adjustments to the PT-JPL model yielded minimal improvements. We conclude that the MOD16 ET model has the potential to accurately predict water use in arid environments provided soil water stress and accurate biome-specific parameters are incorporated.

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Hyper-spectral characteristics of rolled-leaf desert vegetation in the Hexi Corridor, China
Huaidong WEI, Xuemei YANG, Bo ZHANG, Feng DING, Weixing ZHANG, Shizeng LIU, Fang CHEN
Journal of Arid Land    2019, 11 (3): 332-344.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-019-0013-x
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Desert plants survive harsh environment using a variety of drought-resistant structural modifications and physio-ecological systems. Rolled-leaf plants roll up their leaves during periods of drought, making it difficult to distinguish between the external structures of various types of plants, it is therefore necessary to carry out spectral characteristics analysis for species identification of these rolled-leaf plants. Based on hyper-spectral data measured in the field, we analyzed the spectral characteristics of seven types of typical temperate zone rolled-leaf desert plants in the Hexi Corridor, China using a variety of mathematical transformation methods. The results show that: (1) during the vigorous growth period in July and August, the locations of the red valleys, green peaks, and three-edge parameters, namely, the red edge, the blue edge, and the yellow edge of well-developed rolled-leaf desert plants are essentially consistent with those of the majority of terrestrial vegetation types; (2) the absorption regions of liquid water, i.e., 1400-1500 and 1600-1700 nm, are the optimal bands for distinguishing various types of rolled-leaf desert plants; (3) in the leaf reflectance regions of 700-1250 nm, which is controlled by cellular structure, it is difficult to select the characteristic bands for differentiation rolled-leaf desert vegetation; and (4) after processing the spectral reflectance curves using a first-order differential, the envelope removal method, and the normalized differential ratio, we identify the other characteristic bands and parameters that can be used for identifying various types of temperate zone rolled-leaf desert plants, i.e., the 510-560, 650-700 and 1330-1380 nm regions, and the red edge amplitude. In general, the mathematical transformation methods in the study are effective tools to capture useful spectral information for species identification of rolled-leaf plants in the Hexi Corridor.

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Climate change and its impacts on mountain glaciers during 1960-2017 in western China
Yinge LIU, Ninglian WANG, Junhui ZHANG, Lingang WANG
Journal of Arid Land    2019, 11 (4): 537-550.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-019-0025-6
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Mountain glaciers are highly sensitive to climate change. In this paper, we systematically analyzed and discussed the responses of glaciers to climate change during 1960-2017 in western China by the methods of least squares and correlation analysis. Results show that the maximum temperature, minimum temperature, average temperature, and precipitation significantly increased in western China at the rates of 0.32°C/10a, 0.48°C/10a, 0.39°C/10a, and 11.20 mm/10a, respectively. However, the wind speed, hours of sunshine, snowfall, and snowy days displayed decreasing trends at the rates of -0.53 m/(s?10a), 3.72 h/10a, -2.90 mm/10a, and -0.10 d/10a, respectively. The annual percentage of glacier area decreased by approximately 0.42%, and the average glacier area decreased by 2.76 km2/a. Meanwhile, glacial shrinkages were greater in the Altay Mountains, Tanggula Mountains, and Qilian Mountains than in the other mountainous regions. Glacier accumulation decreased while melt volume increased at a rate of 2.7×104 m3/a. The area of melt volume was 1.3 times that of the glacier accumulation area. The glacier mass balance (GMB) decreased substantially at a rate of -14.0 mm/a, whereas the equilibrium line altitude (ELA) showed an increasing trend at a rate of 0.5 mm/a. After 1997, the mass was smaller than -500.0 mm, indicating a huge loss in glaciers. Furthermore, relationships between ELA and GMB and various climatic factors were established. Temperature and precipitation demonstrated a significantly negative correlation, whereas wind speed and snowy days had significantly positive correlations with GMB. Snowy days also exhibited a remarkably negative correlation with ELA. The strong warming trend and less snowy days were thought to be the main factors leading to glacial melting, whereas the increase in precipitation, and reductions of sunshine hours and wind speed might slow glacial melting.

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Mapping desertification potential using life cycle assessment method: a case study in Lorestan Province, Iran
RANJBAR Abolfazl, HEYDARNEJAD Somayeh, H MOUSAVI Sayed, MIRZAEI Roohallah
Journal of Arid Land    2019, 11 (5): 652-663.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-019-0064-z
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In recent year, desertification has become one of the most important environmental hazards all over the world, especially in developing countries such as Iran. Understanding the factors impactingon desertification and identifying the regionswith high desertification potential are essential to control this phenomenon (i.e., desertification). The life cycle assessment (LCA) method is essential in assessing the desertification of ecosystems, especially for susceptible ecosystems with high degradationrisks. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the desertification potential of Lorestan Province, Iran, based on the LCA method. We selected aridity, fire and dust as three indicators of desertification and collected data from 2000 to 2015. We divided the study area into 6 types of ecoregionsaccording to the climate types (arid, semi-arid and dry sub-humid) and dominant species (Quercus brantii and Astragalusadscendens), and calculated the characteristic factor (CF) of eachindicator (aridity, fire and dust) by combining the indicator layers and ecoregion layer of the study area. In a given ecoregion, the sum of CF values of aridity, dust and fire indicators represents the life cycle inventory (LCI) desertification value (the higher the LCI value, the greater the desertification potential).Then, we obtained the desertification potential map by combining and overlapping the ecoregions and the normalized indicators based on the LCA method. Aridity and fire exhibit significant impacts on desertification in the study area compared with dust. In the study area, semi-arid ecoregion with Quercus brantiias the dominant species is the largest ecoregion, while arid ecoregion withQuercus brantiias the dominant species is the smallest ecoregion.Arid ecoregion withAstragalusadscendensas the dominant species (LCI desertificationvalue of 1.99) and dry sub-humid ecoregion withQuercus brantiias the dominant species (LCI desertification value of0.79)show the highest and lowest desertification potentials, respectively. Furthermore, arid ecoregion with Quercus brantii as the dominant species also has a higher LCI desertification value (1.89), showing a high desertification potential. These results suggest the necessity of proper management and appropriate utilization in these ecoregions. In general, assessing desertification potential using the LCA method on a local and regional scale can possibly provide a new methodology for identifying and protecting areas with high degradation risks.

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Effects of land use and cover change on surface wind speed in China
Yupeng LI, Yaning CHEN, Zhi LI
Journal of Arid Land    2019, 11 (3): 345-356.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-019-0095-5
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The surface wind speed (SWS) is affected by both large-scale circulation and land use and cover change (LUCC). In China, most studies have considered the effect of large-scale circulation rather than LUCC on SWS. In this study, we evaluated the effects of LUCC on the SWS decrease during 1979-2015 over China using the observation minus reanalysis (OMR) method. There were two key findings: (1) Observed wind speed declined significantly at a rate of 0.0112 m/(s?a), whereas ERA-Interim, which can only capture the inter-annual variation of observed data, indicated a gentle downward trend. The effects of LUCC on SWS were distinct and caused a decrease of 0.0124 m/(s?a) in SWS; (2) Due to variations in the characteristics of land use types across different regions, the influence of LUCC on SWS also varied. The observed wind speed showed a rapid decline over cultivated land in Northwest China, as well as a decrease in China's northeastern and eastern plain regions due to the urbanization. However, in the Tibetan Plateau, the impact of LUCC on wind speed was only slight and can thus be ignored.

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Is bi-seasonal germination an optimal choice for an ephemeral plant living in a cold desert?
Shanlin YANG, Xiang SHI, Shaoming WANG, Jiashu LIU, Fanxiang MENG, Wei PANG
Journal of Arid Land    2019, 11 (2): 280-291.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-019-0001-1
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Research on germination strategies has been proposed as a tool for understanding the evolutionary patterns of plant species living in extreme climate conditions. Previous research has concentrated on spring-germinated plants, while there has been little investigation on the ecological significance of ephemeral plants that germinate in both autumn and spring. The biological characteristics and life history strategies of autumn- and spring-germinated plants of Hypecoum erectum L. that belongs to Hypecoum in Papaveraceae family in the southern part of the Gurbantunggut Desert, China, were investigated from 2016 to 2017. Results showed that: (1) the interval from seedling emergence to the end of the life cycle in autumn-germinated plants (202-208 d) was significantly longer than that in spring-germinated plants (53-65 d); (2) the height, crown, principal axis and the number of leaves of autumn-germinated plants were much greater than those of spring-germinated plants; (3) allocation of dry mass to reproduction was 30.24% (±2.41%) and 10.12% (±0.68%) in autumn- and spring-germinated plants, respectively. Autumn-germinated seedlings of H. erectum had an advantage in avoiding the competition between annual and perennial herbs that had longer periods of vegetative growth. Spring-germinated seedlings need to ensure the survival of population when only a fewer autumn-germinated seedlings successfully overwinter. In an unpredictable environment, the germination strategy of bet hedging not only utilizes the resources and reduces the competition intensity in offspring, but also ensures the survival of the plant population.

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Distribution of soil aggregates and organic carbon in deep soil under long-term conservation tillage with residual retention in dryland
Bisheng WANG, Lili GAO, Weishui YU, Xueqin WEI, Jing LI, Shengping LI, Xiaojun SONG, Guopeng LIANG, Dianxiong CAI, Xueping WU
Journal of Arid Land    2019, 11 (2): 241-254.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-019-0094-6
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To ascertain the effects of long-term conservation tillage and residue retention on soil organic carbon (SOC) content and aggregate distribution in a deep soil (>20-cm depth) in a dryland environment, this paper analyzed the SOC and aggregate distribution in soil, and the aggregate-associated organic carbon (OC) and SOC physical fractions. Conservation tillage (reduced tillage with residue incorporated (RT) and no-tillage with residue mulch (NT)) significantly increased SOC sequestration and soil aggregation in deep soil compared with conventional tillage with residue removal (CT). Compared with CT, RT significantly increased the proportion of small macroaggregates by 23%-81% in the 10-80 cm layer, and the OC content in small macroaggregates by 1%-58% in the 0-80 cm layer. RT significantly increased (by 24%-90%) the OC content in mineral-SOC within small macroaggregates in the 0-60 cm layer, while there was a 23%-80% increase in the 0-40 cm layer with NT. These results indicated that: (1) conservation tillage treatments are beneficial for soil aggregation and SOC sequestration in a deep soil in a dryland environment; and (2) the SOC in mineral-associated OC plays important roles in soil aggregation and SOC sequestration. In conclusion, RT with NT is recommended as an agricultural management tool in dryland soils because of its role in improving soil aggregation and SOC sequestration.

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Spatial distribution of water-activesoil layer along the south-north transect in the Loess Plateau of China
Chunlei ZHAO, Ming'an SHAO, Xiaoxu JIA, Laiming HUANG, Yuanjun ZHU
Journal of Arid Land    2019, 11 (2): 228-240.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-019-0051-4
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Soil water is an important compositionof water recyclein the soil-plant-atmosphere continuum. However, intense water exchange between soil-plant and soil-atmosphereinterfacesonly occurs in a certain layer of the soil profile. For deep insight into wateractive layer (WAL, defined as the soil layer with a coefficient of variation in soil water content>10% in a given time domain)inthe Loess Plateau of China,we measuredsoil water content (SWC)in the 0.0-5.0 m soil profile from 86 sampling sites along an approximately 860-kmlong south-north transect during the period 2013-2016. Moreover, a datasetcontainedfourclimatic factors (mean annual precipitation, mean annual evaporation, annual mean temperature and mean annual dryness index) andfivelocalfactors (altitude, slope gradient, land use, clay content and soil organic carbon)ofeachsampling sitewasobtained.Inthisstudy, three WAL indices (WAL-T (the thickness of WAL), WAL-CV (the mean coefficient of variation in SWC within WAL) and WAL-SWC (themean SWC within WAL)) were used to evaluate the characteristics of WAL. The results showed that with increasing latitude, WAL-T and WAL-CV increased firstly and then decreased. WAL-SWC showed an oppositedistribution pattern along the south-north transect compared with WAL-T and WAL-CV. Average WAL-T of the transect was 2.0 m, suggesting intense soil water exchange in the0.0-2.0 m soil layer in the study area. Soil water exchange was deeper and more intense in the middle region than in the southern and northern regions, with the values of WAL-CV and WAL-Tbeing27.3% and 4.3 m in the middle region, respectively. Both climatic (10.1%) and local (4.9%) factors influenced the indices of WAL, with climatic factors having a more dominant effect.Compared with multiple linear regressions, pedotransfer functions (PTFs) from artificial neural network can better estimate theWAL indices. PTFs developed byartificial neural network respectivelyexplained 86%, 81% and 64% of the total variations in WAL-T, WAL-SWC andWAL-CV. Knowledge of WAL iscrucial for understanding the regional water budgetandevaluatingthe stable soil water reserve, regional water characteristics and eco-hydrological processes in the Loess Plateau of China.

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Morphological variation of star dune and implications for dune management: a case study at the Crescent Moon Spring scenic spot of Dunhuang, China
Weimin ZHANG, Lihai TAN, Zhishan AN, Kecun ZHANG, Yang GAO, Qinghe NIU
Journal of Arid Land    2019, 11 (3): 357-370.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-019-0099-1
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Aerial photographs and 3-D laser scans of a 90-m high star dune at the Crescent Moon Spring scenic spot in Dunhuang, China, are used to investigate the changes in dune morphology on timescales from months to decades. The result revealed that relative-equilibrium airflow strength in three wind directions of northeast, west and south was an important condition for the stability of star dunes with limited migration. Transverse and longitudinal airflows exerted a crucial impact on variation processes of star dune morphology. Controlled by transverse airflows,the easterly winds, the east side was dominated by wind erosion; and strong deposition occurred on the south-south-east arm with a maximum deposition rate of 0.44 m/a in the 46-a monitoring period, causing the east side becoming steep and high. Controlled by longitudinal airflows, the westerly winds, the west-north-west side was mainly eroded and the north arm migrated from west to east with a rate of 0.30 m/a, causing the dune slope becoming gentle and elongate. The local air circulation (southerly winds) exerted a significant impact on the development process of the star dune. Due to the influence of human activities, the south side present surface processes from a concave profile to a convex profile in 46 a, which is a potential threat to the Crescent Moon Spring. The results indicate that rehabilitating the airflow field at most is a crucial strategy to the protection of Crescent Moon Spring from burial. Opening up the passage of easterly, westerly and southerly winds through intermediately cutting the protection forest, demolishing the enclosed wall and changing the pavilion into a porous pattern have been suggested to protect the Crescent Moon Spring from burial.

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Effects of recovery time after fire and fire severity on stand structure and soil of larch forest in the Kanas National Nature Reserve, Northwest China
LIU Xiaoju, PAN Cunde
Journal of Arid Land    2019, 11 (6): 811-823.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-019-0022-9
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Forest recovery may be influenced by several factors, of which fire is the most critical. However, moderate- and long-term effects of fire on forest recovery are less researched in Northwest China. Thus, the effects of different forest recovery time after fire (1917 (served as the control), 1974, 1983 and 1995) and fire severities (low, moderate and high) on larch (Larix sibirica Ledeb.) forest were investigated in the Kanas National Nature Reserve (KNNR), Northwest China in 2017. This paper analyzed post-fire changes in stand density, total basal area (TBA), litter mass, soil organic carbon (SOC) and soil nutrients (total nitrogen, total phosphorus and total potassium) with one-way analyses of variance. Results indicate that litter mass, TBA, SOC and soil nutrients increased with increasing recovery time after fire and decreasing fire severity, while the stand density showed an opposite response. The effects of fire disturbance on SOC and soil nutrients decreased with increasing soil depth. Moreover, we found that the time of more than 43 a is needed to recover the litter mass, TBA, SOC and soil nutrients to the pre-fire level. In conclusion, high-severity fire caused the greatest variations in stand structure and soil of larch forest, and low-severity fire was more advantageous for post-fire forest stand structure and soil recovery in the KNNR. Therefore, low-severity fire can be an efficient management mean through reducing the accumulation of forest floor fuel of post-fire forests in the KNNR, Northwest China.

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Stable oxygen-hydrogen isotopes reveal water use strategies of Tamarix taklamakanensis in the Taklimakan Desert, China
DONG Zhengwu, LI Shengyu, ZHAO Ying, LEI Jiaqiang, WANG Yongdong, LI Congjuan
Journal of Arid Land    2020, 12 (1): 115-129.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-020-0051-4
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Tamarix taklamakanensis, a dominant species in the Taklimakan Desert of China, plays a crucial role in stabilizing sand dunes and maintaining regional ecosystem stability. This study aimed to determine the water use strategies of T. taklamakanensis in the Taklimakan Desert under a falling groundwater depth. Four typical T. taklamakanensis nabkha habitats (sandy desert of Tazhong site, saline desert-alluvial plain of Qiemo site, desert-oasis ecotone of Qira site and desert-oasis ecotone of Aral site) were selected with different climate, soil, groundwater and plant cover conditions. Stable isotope values of hydrogen and oxygen were measured for plant xylem water, soil water (soil depths within 0-500 cm), snowmelt water and groundwater in the different habitats. Four potential water sources for T. taklamakanensis, defined as shallow, middle and deep soil water, as well as groundwater, were investigated using a Bayesian isotope mixing model. It was found that groundwater in the Taklimakan Desert was not completely recharged by precipitation, but through the river runoff from snowmelt water in the nearby mountain ranges. The surface soil water content was quickly depleted by strong evaporation, groundwater depth was relatively shallow and the height of T. taklamakanensis nabkha was relatively low, thus T. taklamakanensis primarily utilized the middle (23%±1%) and deep (31%±5%) soil water and groundwater (36%±2%) within the sandy desert habitat. T. taklamakanensis mainly used the deep soil water (55%±4%) and a small amount of groundwater (25%±2%) within the saline desert-alluvial plain habitat, where the soil water content was relatively high and the groundwater depth was shallow. In contrast, within the desert-oasis ecotone in the Qira and Aral sites, T. taklamakanensis primarily utilized the deep soil water (35%±1% and 38%±2%, respectively) and may also use groundwater because the height of T. taklamakanensis nabkha was relatively high in these habitats and the soil water content was relatively low, which is associated with the reduced groundwater depth due to excessive water resource exploitation and utilization by surrounding cities. Consequently, T. taklamakanensis showed distinct water use strategies among the different habitats and primarily depended on the relatively stable water sources (deep soil water and groundwater), reflecting its adaptations to the different habitats in the arid desert environment. These findings improve our understanding on determining the water sources and water use strategies of T. taklamakanensis in the Taklimakan Desert.

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Ridge-furrow plastic mulching with a suitable planting density enhances rainwater productivity, grain yield and economic benefit of rainfed maize
ZHENG Jing, FAN Junliang, ZOU Yufeng, Henry Wai CHAU, ZHANG Fucang
Journal of Arid Land    2020, 12 (2): 181-198.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-020-0001-1
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Soil surface mulching and planting density regulation are widely used for effective utilization of limited rainwater resources and improvement of crop productivity in dryland farming. However, the combined effects of mulching type and planting density on maize growth and yield have been seldom studied, especially in different hydrological years. A field experiment was conducted to evaluate the effects of mulching type and planting density on the soil temperature, growth, grain yield (GY), water use efficiency (WUE) and economic benefit of rainfed maize in the drylands of northern China during 2015-2017. Precipitation fluctuated over the three years. There were four mulching types (NM, flat cultivation with non-mulching; SM, flat cultivation with straw mulching; RP, plastic-mulched ridge plus bare furrow; RPFS, plastic-mulched ridge plus straw-mulched furrow) and three planting densities (LD, low planting density, 45.0×103 plants/hm2; MD, medium planting density, 67.5×103 plants/hm2; HD, high planting density, 90.0×103 plants/hm2). Results showed that soil temperature was higher with RP and lower with SM compared with NM, but no significant difference was found between RPFS and NM. More soil water was retained by soil mulching at the early growth stage, but it significantly varied at the middle and late growth stages. Maize growth was significantly improved by soil mulching. With increasing planting density, stem diameter, net photosynthetic rate and chlorophyll content tended to decline, whereas a single-peak trend in biomass yield was observed. Mulching type and planting density did not have significant effect on evapotranspiration (ET), but GY and WUE were significantly affected. There were significant interacting effects of mulching type and planting density on biomass yield, GY, ET and WUE. Compared with NM, RPFS, RP and SM increased GY by 57.5%, 50.8% and 18.9%, and increased WUE by 66.6%, 54.3% and 18.1%, respectively. At MD, GY increased by 41.4% and 25.2%, and WUE increased by 38.6% and 22.4% compared with those of at LD and HD. The highest maize GY (7023.2 kg/hm2) was observed under MD+RPFS, but the value (6699.1 kg/hm2) was insignificant under MD+RP. Similar trends were observed for WUE under MD+RP and MD+RPFS, but no significant difference was observed between these two combinations. In terms of economic benefit, net income under MD+RP was the highest with a 9.8% increase compared with that of under MD+RPFS. Therefore, we concluded that RP cultivation pattern with a suitable planting density (67.5×103 plants/hm2) is promising for rainwater resources utilization and maize production in the drylands of northern China.

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Soil fixation and erosion control by Haloxylon persicum roots in arid lands, Iran
ABDI Ehsan, R SALEH Hamid, MAJNONIAN Baris, DELJOUEI Azade
Journal of Arid Land    2019, 11 (1): 86-96.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-018-0021-2
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Vegetation roots contribute to soil fixation and reinforcement, thus improving soil resistance against erosion. Generally, the amount of soil fixation presented by roots mainly depends on root density and tensile strength. In the present study, we conducted the research in order to further understand the biotechnical properties of Haloxylon persicum and also to quantify its role in increasing soil cohesion in arid lands of Iran. Ten H. persicum shrubs were randomly selected for root distribution and strength investigations, in which five samples were set on flat terrain and other five samples on a moderate slope terrain. The profile trench method was used to assess the root area ratio (RAR) as the index of root density and distribution. Two profiles were dug around each sample, up and downslope for sloped treatment and north and south sides for flat treatment. The results showed that RAR increased with increasing soil depth and significantly decreased in 40-50 cm layers of downhill (0.320%) and 50-60 cm for uphill (0.210%). The minimum values for the northward and southward profiles were 0.003% and 0.003%, respectively, while the maximum values were 0.260% and 0.040%, respectively. The relationship between the diameter of root samples and root tensile strength followed a negative power function, but tensile force increased with increasing root diameter following a positive power function. The pattern of increased cohesion changes in soil profile was relatively similar to RAR curves. The maximum increased cohesion due to the presence of roots in uphill and downhill sides were 0.470 and 1.400 kPa, respectively. In the flat treatment, the maximum increased cohesions were 0.570 and 0.610 kPa in northward and southward profiles, respectively. The analysis of variance showed that wind and slope induced stresses did not have any significant effect on the amount of increased cohesion of H. persicum. The findings served to develop knowledge about biotechnical properties of H. persicum root system that can assist in assessing the efficiency of afforestation and restoration measures for erosion control in arid lands.

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Exogenously applied glycinebetaine induced alteration in some key physio-biochemical attributes and plant anatomical features in water stressed oat ( Avena sativa L.) plants
SHEHZADI Anum, A AKRAM Nudrat, ALI Ayaz, ASHRAF Muhammad
Journal of Arid Land    2019, 11 (2): 292-305.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-019-0007-8
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Although exogenous application of glycinebetaine (GB) is widely reported to regulate a myriad of physio-biochemical attributes in plants under stressful environments including drought stress, there is little information available in the literature on how and up to what extent GB can induce changes in anatomical features in water starved plants. Thus, the present research work was conducted to assess the GB-induced changes in growth, physio-biochemical, and anatomical characteristics in two cultivars (CK-1 and F-411) of oat (Avena sativa L.) under limited water supply. After exposure to water stress, a considerable reduction was observed in plant growth in terms of lengths and weights of shoot and roots, leaf mesophyll thickness, leaf midrib thickness, root cortex thickness, root diameter, stem diameter, stem phloem area, and stem vascular bundle area in both oat cultivars. However, water stress resulted in a significant increase in leaf total phenolics, hydrogen peroxide (H2O2), ascorbic acid (AsA), GB contents, activities of enzymes (CAT, SOD and POD), total soluble proteins, leaf epidermis (abaxial and adaxial) thickness, bulliform cell area, sclerenchyma thickness, root endodermis and epidermis thickness, root metaxylem area, stem metaxylem area and stem sclerenchyma thickness in both oat cultivars. Foliar-applied 100 mM GB suppressed H2O2 contents, while improved growth attributes, free proline and GB contents, activity of SOD enzyme, leaf abaxial epidermis thickness, leaf bulliform cell area, leaf midrib thickness, leaf sclerenchyma thickness, root cortex thickness, root endodermis, epidermis thickness, root stele diameter, stem diameter, stem epidermis thickness, stem metaxylem area, and stem phloem and vascular bundle area in both oat cultivars. For both oat cultivars, CK-1 was superior to F-411 in leaf abaxial epidermis thickness, leaf mesophyll, leaf sclerenchyma, root metaxylem area, stem diameter, stem epidermis, sclerenchyma thickness, stem metaxylem area, and stem vascular bundle area. Overall, both oat cultivars showed inconsistent behavior to water stress and foliar-applied GB in terms of different physio-biochemical attributes, however, CK-1 was superior to F-411 in a number of anatomical features of leaf, root, and stem.

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