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10 August 2015, Volume 7 Issue 4 Previous Issue    Next Issue
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Research Articles
Effects of aeolian processes on nutrient loss from surface soils and their significance for sandy desertification in Mu Us Desert, China: a wind tunnel approach
LANG Lili, WANG Xunming, WANG Guangtao, HUA Ting, WANG Hongtao
Journal of Arid Land. 2015, 7 (4): 421-428.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-015-0043-y
Abstract ( 1935 )     PDF (352KB) ( 1977 )  
Mu Us Desert, a region with high aeolian activity, is at extremely high risk of sandy desertification. Using surface soil samples collected from Mu Us Desert of northern China, we evaluated the effects of aeolian processes on nutrient loss from surface soils by employing wind tunnel experiments. The experiments were conducted using free-stream wind velocities of 14, 16, 18 and 22 m/s. Our results showed that the fine particles (<50 μm in diameter; 12.28% of all transported materials) carrying large nutrient loadings were exported outside the study area by aeolian processes. After the erodible fine particles were transported away from the soil surfaces at low wind velocity (i.e. 14 m/s), the following relatively high wind velocity (i.e. 22 m/s) did not have any significant effect on nutrient export, because the coefficients of variation for soil organic matter, total phosphorus, total nitrogen and available potassium were usually <5%. Our experimental results confirmed that aeolian processes result in a large amount of nutrient export, and consequently increase the risk of sandy desertification in arid and semi-arid ecosystems.
Changes in aggregate-associated organic carbon and nitrogen after 27 years of fertilization in a dryland alfalfa grassland on the Loess Plateau of China
ZHANG Liqiong, WEI Xiaorong, HAO Mingde, ZHANG Meng
Journal of Arid Land. 2015, 7 (4): 429-437.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-015-0003-6
Abstract ( 1714 )     PDF (249KB) ( 1775 )  
Changes in the distribution of soil aggregate sizes and concentrations of aggregate-associated organic carbon (OC) and nitrogen (N) in response to the fertilization of grasslands are not well understood. Understanding these changes is essential to the sustainable development of artificial grasslands. For understanding these changes, we collected soil samples at 0–20 and 20–40 cm depths from a semi-arid artificial alfalfa grassland after 27 years of applications of phosphorus (P) and nitrogen+phosphorus+manure (NPM) fertilizers on the Loess Plateau of China. The distribution of aggregate sizes and the concentrations and stocks of OC and N in total soils were determined. The results showed that NPM treatment significantly increased the proportions of >2.0 mm and 2.0–0.25 mm size fractions, the mean geometric diameter (MGD) and the mean weight diameter (MWD) in the 0–20 cm layer. Phosphorous fertilizer significantly increased the proportion of >2.0 mm size fractions, the MGD and the MWD in the 0–20 cm layer. Long-term application of fertilization (P and NPM) resulted in the accumulation of OC and N in soil aggregates. The largest changes in aggregate-associated OC and N in the 0–20 cm layer were found at the NPM treatment, whereas the largest changes in the 20–40 cm layer were found at the P treatment. The results suggest that long-term fertilization in the grassland leads to the accumulation of OC and N in the coarse size fractions and the redistribution of OC and N from fine size fractions to coarse size fractions.
Grain-size characteristics of linear dunes on the northern margin of Qarhan Salt Lake, northwestern China
LI Jiyan, DONG Zhibao, ZHANG Zhengcai, QIAN Guangqiang, LUO Wanyin, LU Junfeng
Journal of Arid Land. 2015, 7 (4): 438-449.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-015-0005-4
Abstract ( 1811 )     PDF (617KB) ( 1779 )  
In order to clarify the formation mechanism of linear dunes on the northern margin of Qarhan Salt Lake, northwestern China, we analyzed the grain-size and sorting parameters of the dune and interdune sands. The surface sands (0–30 mm) from the dune base to the crest of both flanks and interdune corridors were sampled along transects from upwind to downwind through the dune field. The results indicated that the grain-size distribution differed at different positions between and within the dunes. The frequency curve for dune sands mainly showed a bimodal distribution, while the interdune sediments showed a trimodal distribution. The grain size distribution of the linear dunes showed a finer crest pattern, i.e. the crests were composed of sands that were generally finer, better sorted than those of base sands. In addition, at the dune field scale, the dune crest sands were tending to become much finer but sorting became worse along the downwind transects. However, the grain-size parameters of sediments in the interdune corridors showed no clear pattern. The results demonstrated that the grain size and sorting parameters exhibited a systematic change not only at the individual scale but also at the dune field scale. Our results quantitatively estimate the limited role of cohesive sediments on the formation of linear dune under unidirectional wind regime. More attention should be paid to a long-term wind regime observation, internal sedimentary structures and their formation ages.
Spatial and temporal variability in vegetation cover of Mongolia and its implications
Sumiya VANDANDORJ, Batdelger GANTSETSEG, Bazartseren BOLDGIV
Journal of Arid Land. 2015, 7 (4): 450-461.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-015-0001-8
Abstract ( 1770 )     PDF (575KB) ( 2207 )  
In this paper, we attempted to determine the most stable or unstable regions of vegetation cover in Mongolia and their spatio-temporal dynamics using Terra/MODIS Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) dataset, which had a 250-m spatial resolution and comprised 6 periods of 16-day composited temporal resolution data (from 10 June to 13 September) for summer seasons from 2000 to 2012. We also used precipitation data as well as biomass data from 12 meteorological stations located in 4 largest natural zones of Mongolia. Our study showed that taiga and forest steppe zones had relatively stable vegetation cover because of forest characteristics and relatively high precipitation. The highest coefficient of variation (CV) of vegetation cover occurred frequently in the steppe and desert steppe zones, mainly depending on variation of precipitation. Our results showed that spatial and temporal variability in vegetation cover (NDVI or plant biomass) of Mongolia was highly dependent on the amount, distribution and CV of precipitation. This suggests that the lowest inter-annual CV of NDVI can occur during wet periods of growing season or in high precipitation regions, while the highest inter-annual CV of NDVI can occur during dry periods and in low precipitation regions. Although the desert zone received less precipitation than other natural zones of the country, it had relatively low variation compared to the steppe and desert steppe, which could be attributed to the very sparse vegetation in the desert.
Optimal root system strategies for desert phreatophytic seedlings in the search for groundwater
LI Changjun, ZENG Fanjiang, ZHANG Bo, LIU Bo, GUO Zichun, GAO Huanhuan, TIYIP Ta
Journal of Arid Land. 2015, 7 (4): 462-474.  
Abstract ( 1393 )     PDF (457KB) ( 1726 )  
Desert phreatophytes are greatly dependent on groundwater, but how their root systems adapt to different groundwater depths is poorly understood. In the present study, shoot and root growths of Alhagi sparsifolia Shap. seedlings were studied across a gradient of groundwater depths. Leaves, stems and roots of different orders were measured after 120 days of different groundwater treatments. Results indicated that the depth of soil wetting front and the vertical distribution of soil water contents were highly controlled by groundwater depths. The shoot growth and biomass of A. sparsifolia decreased, but the root growth and rooting depth increased under deeper groundwater conditions. The higher ratios of root biomass, root/shoot and root length/leaf area under deeper groundwater conditions implied that seedlings of A. sparsifolia economized carbon cost on their shoot growths. The roots of A. sparsifolia distributed evenly around the soil wetting fronts under deeper groundwater conditions. Root diameters and root lengths of all orders were correlated with soil water availabilities both within and among treatments. Seedlings of A. sparsifolia produced finer first- and second-order roots but larger third- and fourth-order roots in dry soils. The results demonstrated that the root systems of desert phreatophytes can be optimized to acquire groundwater resources and maximize seedling growth by balancing the costs of carbon gain.
Rhizosphere organic phosphorus fractions of Simon poplar and Mongolian pine plantations in a semiarid sandy land of northeastern China
ZHAO Qiong, WANG Hongquan, YU Zhanyuan, ZENG Dehui
Journal of Arid Land. 2015, 7 (4): 475-480.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-015-0082-4
Abstract ( 1427 )     PDF (75KB) ( 1662 )  
The aim of this study was to investigate the role of rhizosphere organic phosphorus (P) in soil P supply in semiarid forests and the effects of tree species on rihizosphere organic P. We examined organic P fractions in rhizosphere and bulk soils of mono-specific Simon poplar (Populus simonii) and Mongolian pine (Pinus sylvestris var. mongolica) plantations in a semiarid sandy soil of Horqin Sandy Land in Northeast China. Total organic P (TPo) accounted for 76% of total P across the two stands. The concentration of organic P (Po) fractions decreased in the order of NaOH-Po>Res-Po>HCl-Po>NaHCO3-Po in both plantations. The concentration of NaHCO3-Po was 38% and 43% lower in rhizosphere soil than in bulk soil in Simon poplar and Mongolian pine plantations, respectively. In contrast, total P, TPo and NaOH-Po significantly accumulated in rhizosphere soil in Simon poplar plantations, but no change in Mongolian pine plantations. Soil recalcitrant organic P fractions were positively correlated with soil organic carbon. The results suggest that rhizosphere labile organic P was an important source of plant-available P in this semiarid region, but the dynamic of rhizosphere recalcitrant organic P fractions varied with tree species and was correlated to organic carbon dynamics.
Effects of exotic and endogenous shrubs on under-story vegetation and soil nutrients in the south of Tunisia
Zouhaier NOUMI
Journal of Arid Land. 2015, 7 (4): 481-487.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-015-0047-7
Abstract ( 1419 )     PDF (95KB) ( 2057 )  
This study was conducted in southern Tunisia in the growing seasons of 2013 and 2014, and aimed to compare the effects of exotic and endogenous shrub species (Haloxylon persicum and Retama raetam, respectively) on understory vegetation and soil nutrients. For each shrub species, the canopied sub-habitat (under the shrub crown) and un-canopied sub-habitat (in open grassland area) were distinguished. The concentrations of soil nutrients (organic matter, total nitrogen and extractable phosphorus) were found to be significantly higher (P<0.05) under R. raetam canopy than under H. persicum canopy and in open area. The result also showed that the presence of shrubs improved all the values of understory vegetation parameters (floristic composition, density, total plant cover and dry matter) and all these values were significantly higher under endogenous species canopy than under exotic species canopy. These results highlighted the positive effect of endogenous shrubs on understory vegetation and soil nutrients compared to the exotic ones in the Saharan areas of Tunisia.
Floral traits and pollination system of Zygophyllum xanthoxylum in the managed and wild populations in an arid region of Northwest China
CHEN Min, ZHAO Xueyong, ZUO Xiao’an, LIAN Jie, ZHU Yangchun
Journal of Arid Land. 2015, 7 (4): 488-500.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-015-0042-z
Abstract ( 1561 )     PDF (313KB) ( 2110 )  
Zygophyllum xanthoxylum, which belongs to Sarcozygium of Zygophyllaceae, is one of the ecologically important species in Northwest China. In order to understand the pollination system of Z. xanthoxylum, we investigated the following characteristics of this species in the Urat Desert-grassland Research Station in western Inner Mongolia of China: flowering dynamics, pollen viability, pollen limitation, floral visitors and breeding system. The results showed that the flowering period and flowering peak were different between the wild and managed populations, being longer in the managed population. Z. xanthoxylum was pollen-limited, and pollen limitation was more intense in the wild population than in the managed population. Chalicodoma deserticola (Hymenoptera) was found to be the most frequent pollinator in the wild population, while Anthophora fulvitarsis (Hymenoptera) was the most frequent and effective visitor in the managed population. Out-crossing was dominant in the breeding system and self-pollination just played an assistant role to assure the reproduction of Z. xanthoxylum.
Impact of climate change on the streamflow in the glacierized Chu River Basin, Central Asia
MA Changkun, SUN Lin, LIU Shiyin, SHAO Ming’an, LUO Yi
Journal of Arid Land. 2015, 7 (4): 501-513.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-015-0041-0
Abstract ( 1849 )     PDF (401KB) ( 2078 )  
Catchments dominated by meltwater runoff are sensitive to climate change as changes in pre-cipitation and temperature inevitably affect the characteristics of glaciermelt/snowmelt, hydrologic circle and water resources. This study simulated the impact of climate change on the runoff generation and streamflow of Chu River Basin (CRB), a glacierized basin in Central Asia using the enhanced Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT). The model was calibrated and validated using the measured monthly streamflow data from three discharge gauge stations in CRB for the period 1961–1985 and was subsequently driven by downscaled future climate projections of five Global Circulation Models (GCMs) in Coupled Model Inter-comparison Project Phase 5 (CMIP5) under three radiative forcing scenarios (RCP2.6, RCP4.5 and RCP8.5). In this study, the period 1966–1995 was used as the baseline period, while 2016–2045 and 2066–2095 as the near-future and far-future period, respectively. As projected, the climate would become warmer and drier under all scenarios in the future, and the future climate would be characterized by larger seasonal and annual variations under higher RCP. A general decreasing trend was identified in the average annual runoff in glacier (–26.6% to –1.0%), snow (–21.4% to +1.1%) and streamflow (–27.7% to –6.6%) for most of the future scenario periods. The projected maximum streamflow in each of the two future scenarios occurred one month earlier than that in the baseline period because of the reduced streamflow in summer months. Results of this study are expected to arouse the serious concern about water resource availability in the headwater region of CRB under the continuously warming climate. Changes in simulated hydrologic outputs underscored the significance of lowering the uncertainties in temperature and precipitation projection.
Precipitation trends and variability from 1950 to 2000 in arid lands of Central Asia
XU Ligang, ZHOU Hongfei, DU Li, YAO Haijiao, WANG Huaibo
Journal of Arid Land. 2015, 7 (4): 514-526.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-015-0045-9
Abstract ( 1647 )     PDF (644KB) ( 1828 )  
Climate warming will cause differences in precipitation distribution and changes in hydrological cycle both at regional and global scales. Arid lands of Central Asia (ALCA), one of the largest arid regions at the middle latitudes in the world, is likely to be strongly influenced by climate warming. Understanding the precipitation variations in the past is an important prerequisite for predicting future precipitation trends and thus managing regional water resources in such an arid region. In this study, we used run theory, displacement, extreme deviation theory, precipitation concentration index (PCI), Mann-Kendall rank correlation and climatic trend coefficient methods to analyze the precipitation in wet and dry years, changes in precipitation over multiple-time scales, variability of precipitation and its rate of change based on the monthly precipitation data during 1950–2000 from 344 meteorological stations in the ALCA. The occurrence probability of a single year with abundant precipitation was higher than that of a single year with less precipitation. The average duration of extreme drought in the entire area was 5 years, with an average annual water deficit of 34.6 mm (accounting for 11.2% of the average annual precipitation over the duration). The occurrence probability of a single wet year was slightly higher than that of a single dry year. The occurrence probability of more than 5 consecutive wet years was 5.8%, while the occurrence probability of more than 5 consecutive dry years was 6.2%. In the center of the study area, the distribution of precipitation was stable at an intra-annual timescale, with small changes at an inter-annual timescale. In the western part of the study area, the monthly variation of precipitation was high at an inter-annual timescale. There were clear seasonal changes in precipitation (PCI=12–36) in the ALCA. Precipitation in spring and winter accounted for 37.7% and 24.4% of the annual precipitation, respectively. There was a significant inter-annual change in precipitation in the arid Northwest China (PCI=24–34). Annual precipitation increased significantly (P=0.05) in 17.4% of all the meteorological stations over the study period. The probability of an increase in annual precipitation was 75.6%, with this increase being significant (P=0.05) at 34.0% of all the meteorological stations. The average increasing rate in annual precipitation was 3.9 mm/10a (P=0.01) in the ALCA. There were significant increasing trends (P=0.01) in precipitation in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, with rates of 2.6, 3.1 and 3.7 mm/10a, respectively.
Spatio-temporal patterns of drought in North Xinjiang, China, 1961–2012 based on meteorological drought index
WU Yanfeng, Batur BAKE, ZHANG Jusong, Hamid RASULOV
Journal of Arid Land. 2015, 7 (4): 527-543.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-015-0125-x
Abstract ( 1985 )     PDF (1547KB) ( 2169 )  
Drought, which is one of the most frequently occurring severe hazards with long time scales and covering wide geographical areas, is a natural phenomenon resulting in significant economic losses in agriculture and industry. Drought is caused by an imbalance between the inputs of and the demand for water which is insufficient to meet the demands of human activities and the eco-environment. As a major arid and semi-arid area and an important agricultural region in Northwest China, North Xinjiang (NX) shows great vulnerability to drought. In this paper, the characteristics of inter-annual and seasonal drought were analyzed in terms of drought occurrence and drought coverage, by using the composite index of meteorological drought and the data of daily precipitation, air temperature, wind speed, relative humidity and sunshine duration from 38 meteorological stations during the period 1961–2012. Trend analysis, wavelet analysis and empirical orthogonal function were also applied to investigate change trend, period and regional characteristics, respectively. In NX, annual and seasonal drought occurrence and drought coverage all showed a decreasing trend that was most significant in winter (with rates of –0.26 month/10a and –15.46%, respectively), and drought occurrence in spring and summer were more frequent than that in autumn and winter. Spatially, drought was severe in eastern regions but mild in western regions of NX. Annual and seasonal drought occurrence at 38 meteorological stations displayed decreasing trends and were most significant in “Shihezi-Urumqi-Changji”, which can help to alleviate severe drought hazards for local agricultural production and improve human livelihood. NX can be approximately classified into three sub-regions (severe drought region, moderate drought region and mild drought region), which were calculated from annual drought frequencies. The cross wavelet transform suggested that SOI (Southern Oscillation Index), AOI (Arctic Oscillation Index), AAOI (Antarctic Oscillation Index), PAOI (Pacific/North American Oscillation Index) and NAOI (North Atlantic Oscillation Index) have significant correlation with the variation of drought occurrence in NX. To prevent and mitigate the occurrence of drought disasters in NX, agricultural and government managers should pay more attention to those drought events that occur in spring and summer.
Stand structure and height-diameter relationship of a degraded Populus euphratica forest in the lower reaches of the Tarim River, Northwest China
AISHAN Tayierjiang, HALIK ümüt, Florian BETZ, TIYIP Tashpolat, DING Jianli, NUERMAIMAITI Yiliyasijiang
Journal of Arid Land. 2015, 7 (4): 544-554.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-015-0046-8
Abstract ( 1508 )     PDF (547KB) ( 1872 )  
Understanding stand structure and height-diameter relationship of trees provides very useful information to establish appropriate countermeasures for sustainable management of endangered forests. Populus euphratica, a dominant tree species along the Tarim River watershed, plays an irreplaceable role in the sustainable development of regional ecology, economy and society. However, as the result of climate changes and human activities, the natural riparian ecosystems within the whole river basin were degraded enormously, particularly in the lower reaches of the river where about 320 km of the riparian forests were either highly degraded or dead. In this study, we presented one of the main criteria for the assessment of vitality of P. euphratica forests by estimating the defoliation level, and analyzed forest structure and determined the height-diameter (height means the height of a tree and diameter means the diameter at breast height (DBH) of a tree) relationship of trees in different vitality classes (i.e. healthy, good, medium, senesced, dying, dead and fallen). Trees classified as healthy and good accounted for approximately 40% of all sample trees, while slightly and highly degraded trees took up nearly 60% of total sample trees. The values of TH (tree height) and DBH ranged from 0–19 m and 0–125 cm, respectively. Trees more than 15 m in TH and 60 cm in DBH appeared sporadically. Trees in different vitality classes had different distribution patterns. Healthy trees were mainly composed more of relatively younger trees than of degraded tress. The height-diameter relationships differed greatly among tress in different vitality classes, with the coefficients ranging from 0.1653 to 0.6942. Correlation coefficients of TH and DBH in healthy and good trees were higher than those in trees of other vitality classes. The correlation between TH and DBH decreased with the decline of tree vitality. Our results suggested that it might be able to differentiate degraded P. euphratica trees from healthy trees by determining the height-diameter correlation coefficient, and the coefficient would be a new parameter for detecting degradation and assessing sustainable management of floodplain forests in arid regions. In addition, tree vitality should be taken into account to make an accurate height-diameter model for tree height prediction.
Amphibian and reptilian distribution patterns in the transitional zone between the Euro-Siberian and Central Asia Subrealms
ZHOU Lu, SHI Lei
Journal of Arid Land. 2015, 7 (4): 555-565.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-015-0124-y
Abstract ( 1322 )     PDF (314KB) ( 1760 )  
There exist some controversies over the larger zoogeographic divisions of the arid areas of Central Asia, whose characteristics include complex ecological environments, complex fauna origins and unique patterns of animal distribution. The aim of this study was to determine, using quantitative analysis, the distribution patterns of amphibians and reptiles in the arid areas of Central Asia, whose various physiographical regions were divided into 17 Operative Geographical Units (OGUs). Based on the presence or absence of 52 amphibian and reptile genera in the 17 OGUs, and by making use of the Czekanowski Similarity Index, the Baroni-Urbani and Buser’s Similarity Index, and the strong and weak boundary test, we studied the biotic boundaries within these contested regions. In accordance with our results, the classification dendrogram was divided into two main branches. One branch is composed of the northern OGUs of the Altai Mountains which are a part of the Euro-Siberian Subrealm. The other branch includes all of the OGUs south of the Altai Mountains, which belong to the Central Asia Subrealm. There is a significantly weak biotic boundary (DW>0, GW>GS, P<0.01) between the Euro-Siberian Subrealm and the Central Asia Subrealm that corresponded to the transitional zones. The boundary between the two subrealms runs along the Altai Mountains, the Sayan Mountains, the Hangai Mountains and the Mongolian Dagurr Mountains. The boundaries between the main branches in the Central Asia Subrealm are weak, reflecting the widespread existence of transitional zones in the arid areas of Central Asia. The Tianshan Mountains should be elevated to form its own separate region, “the Middle Asian Mountain Region”, which, due to its special fauna and environment, would be classified at the same level as the Mongolia-Xinjiang Region. With the approach of creating a cluster analysis dendogram based upon the genera of amphibians and reptiles, the relationship of these higher level zoogeographical divisions was successfully resolved and the error of long-branch attraction was also avoided. With our clustering dendrogram as the foundation, the independence test was applied to strong and weak boundaries, and this resolved the problem of where to attribute the transition areas and revealed as well the barrier effect that physical, geographic boundaries have upon amphibians and reptiles. The approach of combining genera clustering analysis with a statistical boundary test should be applicable not only to the distribution patterns of other animal groups, but also to delineating large-scale zoogeographical divisions.