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01 April 2016, Volume 8 Issue 2 Previous Issue    Next Issue
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Research Articles
Spatio-temporal variation of hydrological drought under climate change during the period 1960–2013 in the Hexi Corridor, China
GAO Liming, ZHANG Yaonan
Journal of Arid Land. 2016, 8 (2): 157-171.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-015-0022-3
Abstract ( 2441 )     PDF (445KB) ( 2611 )  
In recent years, climate change has been aggravated in many regions of the world. The Hexi Corridor is located in the semiarid climate zone of Northwest China, which is particularly affected by climate change. Climate change has led to the spatial and temporal variations of temperature and precipitation, which may result in hydrological drought and water shortage. Thus, it is necessary to explore and assess the drought characteristics of river systems in this area. The patterns of hydrological drought in the Hexi Corridor were identified using the streamflow drought index (SDI) and standardized precipitation index at 12-month timescale (SPI12) from 1960 to 2013. The evolution of drought was obtained by the Mann–Kendall test and wavelet transform method. The results showed that both the mean annual SDI and SPI12 series in the Hexi Corridor exhibited an increasing trend during the study period. According to the results of wavelet analysis, we divided the study period into two segments, i.e. before and after 1990. Before 1990, the occurrence of droughts showing decreased SDI and SPI12 was concentrated in the northern part of the corridor and shifted to the eastern part of the corridor after 1990. The probability of drought after 1990 in Shule River basin decreased while increased in Shiyang River basin. The wavelet analysis results showed that Shiyang River basin will be the first area to go through the next drought period. Additionally, the relationships between drought pattern and climate indices were analyzed. The enhanced westerly winds and increased precipitation and glacier runoff were the main reasons of wet trend in the Hexi Corridor. However, the uneven spatial variations of precipitation, temperature and glacier runoff led to the difference of hydrological drought variations between the Shule, Heihe and Shiyang River basins.
Oasis cold island effect and its influence on air temperature: a case study of Tarim Basin, Northwest China
HAO Xingming, LI Weihong
Journal of Arid Land. 2016, 8 (2): 172-183.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-015-0060-x
Abstract ( 1403 )     PDF (1237KB) ( 2099 )  
Oasis effect can improve the regional climate and habitability of an arid region. In this study, we explored the cold island effects of oases distributed along the edge of Tarim Basin by analyzing the oasis cold island effect (OCIE) intensity, spatial-temporal variation of OCIE, factors influencing the OCIE and impacts of OCIE on air temperature using geographical statistics and GIS methods based on the MODIS land surface temperature, land use/cover change (LUCC) and observed air temperature data. Results showed that all the oases in the Tarim Basin exhibited cold island effects, with the OCIE intensity highest in summer (−9.08°C), followed by autumn (−4.24°C) and spring (−3.85°C). The total area of oasis cold island (OCI) and the comprehensive OCIE index showed the same seasonal change trend as the OCIE intensity. However, the changing trends in areas of OCI with strong, medium and weak OCIEs were inconsistent across different seasons. Farmland and water areas were found to be the key contributors that affected the OCIE, and the area and aggregation metrics of these two land use/cover types directly contributed to the OCIE. By contrast, natural vegetation, such as forest and grassland, almost had no contribution to the OCIE. Simulation of observed air temperature data showed that if farmland is replaced by forest or grassland in the oasis, the mean, maximum and minimum air temperatures will increase significantly. This heating effect will be higher in summer (reaching 1.14°C to 2.08°C) and lower in spring and autumn. Moreover, the heating effect of farmland being replaced by forest will be higher than that of farmland being replaced by grassland. These results can provide a basis for understanding the cold island effect of oases in arid regions.
GIS-based assessment of non-equilibrium pattern between groundwater recharge and irrigation draft in a semi-arid region of Rajasthan, India
Bidyut K BHADRA, Sanjay KUMAR, Rakesh PALIWAL
Journal of Arid Land. 2016, 8 (2): 184-196.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-015-0059-3
Abstract ( 1428 )     PDF (757KB) ( 1911 )  
Over-exploitation of groundwater for irrigation can result in drastic reduction in groundwater level in Jodhpur district of western Rajasthan, India. In this study, we used the long-term trend analysis of seasonal groundwater level data to predict the future groundwater scenario in 33 villages of Jodhpur district, assessed the impact of water harvesting structures on groundwater recharge and explored the non-equilibrium between groundwater recharge and irrigation draft in the study area. Analysis of groundwater level data from 26 observation wells in 33 villages in the pre-monsoon period showed that groundwater level decreased continuously at the rate of 2.07 m/a. With this declining rate, most of the tube wells (including the well with the maximum depth of 193 m) are predicted to become completely dry by 2050. Behavior of temporal groundwater level data in the study period (from 2004 to 2012) can be explained by different geospatial maps, prepared using ArcGIS software. Statistical analysis of the interpolated maps showed that the area with the maximum positive groundwater recharge occupied 63.14% of the total area during 2010–2011 and the area with the maximum irrigation draft accounted for 56.21% of the total area during 2011–2012. Higher groundwater recharge is attributed to the increase in rainfall and the better aquifer condition. Spatial distribution for the changes of average groundwater recharge and draft (2008–2009 and 2011–2012) showed that 68.50% recharge area was in positive change and 45.75% draft area was in negative change. It was observed that the area of the irrigation draft exceeded that of the groundwater recharge in most of the years. In spite of the construction of several shallow water harvesting structures in 2009–2010, sandstone aquifer zones showed meager impact on groundwater recharge. The best-fit line for the deviation between average groundwater fluctuation due to recharge and irrigation draft with time can be represented by the polynomial curve. Thus, over-exploitation of groundwater for agricultural crops has result in non-equilibrium between groundwater recharge and irrigation draft.
Major elements in the Holocene loess-paleosol sequence in the upper reaches of the Weihe River valley, China
WAN Honglian, HUANG Chunchang, PANG Jiangli
Journal of Arid Land. 2016, 8 (2): 197-206.  
Abstract ( 1452 )     PDF (490KB) ( 1618 )  
Palaeohydrological investigations were carried out in the Guchuan Basin in the upper reaches of the Weihe River valley, China. A set of palaeoflood slackwater deposits (SWDs) was found interbedded in the Holocene loess-paleosol sequence at the Guchuanzhen site (GCZ). These palaeoflood SWDs were studied by field observations and laboratory analyses including concentrations of chemical elements and optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) dating. The results showed that the palaeoflood SWDs were the result of the secondary separations of the surface soil and weathered soil layers during the process of water transport and deposition, and without obvious weathering during soil development. These extraordinary flood events were dated back to 3,200−3,000 a B.P. with the OSL method and checked by archaeological dating of the human remains retrieved from the profile. These extraordinary flood events were therefore considered as regional expression of known climatic events and demonstrated the climatic instability in the Holocene. This result is important for understanding the effects of global climate change on the dynamics of river systems.
Dynamics of ecosystem carbon stocks during vegetation restoration on the Loess Plateau of China
WANG Kaibo, DENG Lei, REN Zongping, SHI Weiyu, CHEN Yiping, SHANG-GUAN Zhouping
Journal of Arid Land. 2016, 8 (2): 207-220.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-015-0091-3
Abstract ( 1763 )     PDF (1562KB) ( 2719 )  
In the last few decades, the Loess Plateau had experienced an extensive vegetation restoration to reduce soil erosion and to improve the degraded ecosystems. However, the dynamics of ecosystem carbon stocks with vegetation restoration in this region are poorly understood. This study examined the changes of carbon stocks in mineral soil (0–100 cm), plant biomass and the ecosystem (plant and soil) following vegetation restoration with different models and ages. Our results indicated that cultivated land returned to native vegetation (natural restoration) or artificial forest increased ecosystem carbon sequestration. Tree plantation sequestered more carbon than natural vegetation succession over decades scale due to the rapid increase in biomass carbon pool. Restoration ages had different effects on the dynamics of biomass and soil carbon stocks. Biomass carbon stocks increased with vegetation restoration age, while the dynamics of soil carbon stocks were affected by sampling depth. Ecosystem carbon stocks consistently increased after tree plantation regardless of the soil depth; but an initial decrease and then increase trend was observed in natural restoration chronosequences with the soil sampling depth of 0–100 cm. Moreover, there was a time lag of about 15–30 years between biomass production and soil carbon sequestration in 0–100 cm, which indicated a long-term effect of vegetation restoration on deeper soil carbon sequestration.
Effects of land-use types on the vertical distribution of fractions of oxidizable organic carbon on the Loess Plateau, China
SUN Caili, XUE Sha, CHAI Zongzheng, ZHANG Chao, LIU Guobin
Journal of Arid Land. 2016, 8 (2): 221-231.   DOI: gbliu@ms.iswc.ac.cn
Abstract ( 1659 )     PDF (320KB) ( 1445 )  
The oxidizability of soil organic carbon (SOC) influences soil quality and carbon sequestration. Four fractions of oxidizable organic carbon (very labile (C1), labile (C2), less labile (C3) and non-labile (C4)) reflect the status and composition of SOC and have implications for the change and retention of SOC. Studies of the fractions of oxidizable organic carbon (OC) have been limited to shallow soil depths and agroecosystems. How these fractions respond at deep soil depths and in other types of land-use is not clear. In this study, we evaluated the vertical distributions of the fractions of oxidizable organic carbon to a soil depth of 5.0 m in 10 land-use types in the Zhifanggou Watershed on the Loess Plateau, China. Along the soil profile, C1 contents were highly variable in the natural grassland and shrubland I (Caragana microphylla), C2 and C4 contents were highly variable in the natural grassland and two terraced croplands, respectively, and C3 contents varied little. Among the land-use types, natural grassland had the highest C1 and C2 contents in the 0–0.4 m layers, followed by shrubland I in the 0–0.1 m layer. Natural grassland had the highest C4 contents in the 1.0–4.5 m layers. Natural grassland and shrubland I thus contributed to improve the oxidizability of SOC in shallow soil, and the deep soil of natural grassland has a large potential to sequester SOC on the Loess Plateau.
An analytical model for estimating soil temperature profiles on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau of China
HU Guojie, ZHAO Lin, WU Xiaodong, LI Ren, WU Tonghua, XIE Changwei,QIAO Yongping, SHI Jianzong, CHENG Guodong
Journal of Arid Land. 2016, 8 (2): 232-240.   DOI: linzhao@lzb.ac.cn
Abstract ( 1357 )     PDF (293KB) ( 1620 )  
Soil temperature is a key variable in the control of underground hydro-thermal processes. To estimate soil temperature more accurately, this study proposed a solution method of the heat conduction equation of soil temperature (improved heat conduction model) by applying boundary conditions that incorporate the annual and diurnal variations of soil surface temperature and the temporal variation of daily temperature amplitude, as well as the temperature difference between two soil layers in the Tanggula observation site of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau of China. We employed both the improved heat conduction model and the classical heat conduction model to fit soil temperature by using the 5 cm soil layer as the upper boundary for soil depth. The results indicated that the daily soil temperature amplitude can be better described by the sinusoidal function in the improved model, which then yielded more accurate soil temperature simulating effect at the depth of 5 cm. The simulated soil temperature values generated by the improved model and classical heat conduction model were then compared to the observed soil temperature values at different soil depths. Statistical analyses of the root mean square error (RMSE), the normalized standard error (NSEE) and the bias demonstrated that the improved model showed higher accuracy, and the average values of RMSE, bias and NSEE at the soil depth of 10–105 cm were 1.41°C, 1.15°C and 22.40%, respectively. These results indicated that the improved heat conduction model can better estimate soil temperature profiles compared to the traditional model.
Diversity of endophytes across the soil-plant continuum for Atriplex spp. in arid environments
Journal of Arid Land. 2016, 8 (2): 241-253.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-015-0061-9
Abstract ( 1669 )     PDF (527KB) ( 1747 )  
Endophytes are hypothesized to be transferred across the soil-plant continuum, suggesting both the transfers of endophytes from environment to plant and from plant to soil. To verify this hypothesis and to assess the role of locality, we evaluated the similarity of microbial communities commonly found both in soils and endophytic communities in three arid regions, i.e. the Jornada LTER (Long Term Ecological Research) site in New Mexico, USA, and the research station of Jordan University of Science and Technology (JUST) and Khanasri research station in Badia region of Jordan. Rhizosphere and non-rhizosphere soils, leaves and seeds of Atriplex spp. were sampled. Diversity and distribution of bacteria and fungi across the soil-plant continuums were assessed by tag-encoded FLX amplicon pyrosequencing and sequence alignment. Of the total bacterial OTUs (operational taxonomic units), 0.17% in Khanasri research station, 0.16% in research station of JUST, and 0.42% in Jornada LTER site were commonly found across all the plant and soil compartments. The same was true for fungi in two regions, i.e. 1.56% in research station of JUST and 0.86% in Jornada LTER site. However, in Khanasri research station, 12.08% of total fungi OTUs were found in at least one soil compartment and one plant compartment. Putative Arthrobacter, Sporosarcina, Cladosporium and members of Proteobacteria and Actinobacteria were found across all the soil-plant continuums. Ascomycota, mainly including Didymellaceae, Pleosporaceae and Davidiellaceae were present across all the soil-plant continuums. Microbial communities in two regions of Jordan were similar to each other, but both of them were different from the Jornada LTER site of USA. SIMPER (similarity percentage) analysis of bacterial and fungal taxa for both soil and endophyte communities revealed that dissimilarities of two bacterial genera (Arthrobacter and Sporosarcina) and two fungal genera (Cladosporium and Alternaria) are very high, so they play key roles in the soil-plant continuums. A weighed Pearson correlation analysis for the specific bacterial OTUs in the soil-plant continuums only showed high similarity between the two regions of Jordan. However, fungal groups showed higher similarities among all regions. This research supports the hypothesis of continuity of certain bacterial and fungal communities across the soil-plant continuums, and also explores the influences of plant species and geographic specificity on diversity and distribution of bacteria and fungi.
Maternal salinity environment affects salt tolerance during germination in Anabasis setifera: A facultative desert halophyte
Journal of Arid Land. 2016, 8 (2): 254-263.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-015-0023-2
Abstract ( 1605 )     PDF (193KB) ( 1574 )  
The effects of maternal salinity and light incubation on the salinity tolerance of the facultative halophyte Anabasis setifera during their germination stages were assessed. Seeds were collected from non-saline habitats in Egypt and saline habitats in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The seeds of the two populations were germinated in 0, 100, 200, 400, 600 and 800 mM NaCl, and incubated at 25°C/15°C in both 12-h light and 12-h darkness regimes and continuous darkness. Significantly more seeds germinated in the Egyptian population than in the UAE population. Salinity tolerance was significantly greater with the Egyptian population than with the UAE population, especially under the conditions of higher salinities. The difference in salinity tolerance between the seeds of two populations was attributed to their seed mass. In addition, germination was significantly faster for the Egyptian population than for the UAE population. Most of the saline treated seeds were able to recover their germination when transferred to distilled water, but this depended on their maternal salinity and light incubation. Recovery from higher salinities was significantly better for the seeds under darkness than for those under light in the UAE population, but the reverse was true for the seeds in the Egyptian population. The higher salinity tolerance for the A. setifera seeds from the non-saline Egyptian population and the lower salinity tolerance for the seeds from the saline UAE population cannot explain their natural distribution. Further studies about other possible roles, such as levels of different promoting and inhibiting phytohormones, are needed to understand the importance of salinity as an environmentally induced maternal effect.
The ecological role of dew in assisting seed germination of the annual desert plant species in a desert environment, northwestern China
ZHUANG Yanli, ZHAO Wenzhi
Journal of Arid Land. 2016, 8 (2): 264-271.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-015-0014-3
Abstract ( 1412 )     PDF (199KB) ( 1543 )  
It is important to understand the effects of dew events on non-mucilaginous seed germination of annual desert plant species during dry seasons, which is critical to maintaining long-term soil seed banks in a harsh desert environment. We hypothesize that dew deposition also assists in the non-mucilaginous seed germination of annual desert species. A common field dew treatment experiment was conducted in the Linze Inland River Basin Research Station to investigate the effects of dew deposition on the seed germination of four annual species, including Agriophyllum squarrosum, Corispermum mongolicum, Bassia dasyphylla and Halogeton arachnoideus. The results showed that the presence of dew significantly increased seed germination percentages and decreased the nonviable seed percentages of B. dasyphylla and H. arachnoideus, whereas there was no such trend for the seeds of C. mongolicum and A. squarrosum. The ecological effects of dew on the seed germination and viability of the annual desert plants were species specific. Although dew wetting is insufficient to cause seed germination, it may help in priming the seeds.
An ultrasonic humidification fluorescent tracing method for detecting unsaturated atmospheric water absorption by the aerial parts of desert plants
WANG Xiaohua, XIAO Honglang, REN Juan, CHENG Yiben, YANG Qiu
Journal of Arid Land. 2016, 8 (2): 272-283.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-015-0018-z
Abstract ( 1492 )     PDF (361KB) ( 1913 )  
Atmospheric water absorption by plants has been explored for more than two centuries, and the aerial parts of plants, particularly the leaves of certain species, have been demonstrated to have an ability to absorb and utilize saturated atmospheric water such as fog, dew and condensed water. So far, however, there have been few studies on the aerial parts of desert plants in their absorption of unsaturated water from the atmosphere. This study presents an ultrasonic humidification fluorescent tracing method of detecting unsaturated atmospheric water absorption by the aerial parts of desert plants. We constructed an organic glass room based on the sizes of field plants. Then, the aboveground parts of the plants were humidified in the sealed glasshouse using an ultrasonic humidifier containing fluorescent reagents. The humidity and wetting time were controlled by turning on or off the humidifier according to the reading of a thermo-hygrometer suspended in the glasshouse. Fluorescence microscopy was employed to observe these plant samples. This method can generate unsaturated atmospheric water vapor and incorporate other fluorescent reagents or water-soluble chemical reagents for gasified humidification. In addition, it can identify plant parts that absorb unsaturated atmospheric water from the air, detect water absorption sites on the surface of leaves or tender stems, and determine the ability of tissues or microstructure of aerial parts to absorb water. This method provides a direct visual evidence for the inspection of leaf or tender stem microstructure in response to unsaturated atmospheric water absorption. Moreover, this method shows that aqueous pores in the cuticles of leaves or tender stems of desert plants are large enough to allow the passage of ionic fluorescent brightener with a molecular weight of up to 917 g/mol. Thus, this paper provides an important approach that explores the mechanism by which desert plants utilize unsaturated atmospheric water.
Microbial diversity in the saline-alkali soil of a coastal Tamarix chinensis woodland at Bohai Bay, China
LIU Wanqiu, ZHANG Wei, LIU Guangxiu, ZHANG Yanhua, ZHANG Gaosen
Journal of Arid Land. 2016, 8 (2): 284-292.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-015-0092-2
Abstract ( 2152 )     PDF (471KB) ( 2236 )  
Soil salinization or alkalization is a form of soil desertification. Coastal saline-alkali soil represents a type of desert and a key system in the network of ecosystems at the continent-ocean interface. Tamarix chinensis is a drought-tolerant plant that is widely distributed in the coastal saline-alkali soil of Bohai Bay, China. In this study, we used 454 pyrosequencing techniques to investigate the characteristics and distribution of the microbial diversity in coastal saline-alkali soil of the T. chinensis woodland at Bohai Bay. A total of 20,315 sequences were obtained, representing 19 known bacterial phyla and a large proportion of unclassified bacteria at the phylum level. Proteobacteria, Acidobacteria and Actinobacteria were the predominant phyla. The coverage of T. chinensis affected the microbial composition. At the phylum level, the relative abundance of γ-Proteobacteria and Bacteroidetes decreased whereas Actinobacteria increased with the increasing coverage of T. chinensis. At the genus level, the proportions of Steroidobacter, Lechevalieria, Gp3 and Gp4 decreased with the increase of the vegetation coverage whereas the proportion of Nocardioides increased. A cluster analysis showed that the existing T. chinensis changed the niches for the microorganisms in the coastal saline-alkali soil, which caused changes in the microbial community. The analysis also distinguished the microbial community structure of the marginal area from those of the dense area and sparse area. Furthermore, the results also indicated that the distance to the seashore line could also affect certain groups of soil bacteria in this coastal saline-alkali soil, such as the family Cryomorphaceae and class Flavobacteria, whose population decreased as the distance increased. In addition, the seawater and temperature could be the driving factors that affected the changes.
Competition between Populus euphratica and Tamarix ramosissima seedlings under simulated high groundwater availability
WU Guilin, JIANG Shaowei, LIU Weiyang, ZHAO Chengyi, LI Jun
Journal of Arid Land. 2016, 8 (2): 293-303.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-015-0019-y
Abstract ( 1558 )     PDF (322KB) ( 1743 )  
Desert riparian plants experience high variability in water availability due to hydrological fluctuations. How riparian plants can survive with low water availability has been well studied, however, little is known about the effects of high water availability on plant community structuring. We conducted a mesocosm experiment to test whether seedling competition under simulated high groundwater availability can explain the shift of co-dominance of Populus euphratica and Tamarix ramosissima in early communities to P. euphratica dominance in mature ones along the Tarim River in northwestern China. Seedlings of these two plant species were grown in monoculture and mixture pools with high groundwater availability. Results indicated that the above-ground biomass and relative yield of T. ramosissima were higher than those of P. euphratica. The competitive advantages of T. ramosissima included its rapid response in growth to groundwater enrichment and its water spender strategy, as evidenced by the increased leaf biomass proportion and the inert stomatal response to leaf-to-air vapor pressure deficit (VPD). In comparison, P. euphratica showed a conservative strategy in water use, with a sensitive response to leaf-to-air VPD. Result of the short-term competition was inconsistent with the long-term competition in fields, suggesting that competition exclusion is not the mechanism structuring the desert riparian plant communities. Thus, our research highlights the importance of mediation by environmental fluctuations (such as lessening competition induced by disturbance) in structuring plant communities along the Tarim riparian zones.
Influence of tourist disturbance on soil properties, plant communities, and surface water quality in the Tianchi scenic area of Xinjiang, China
WEN Bin, ZHANG Xiaolei, YANG Zhaoping, XIONG Heigang, QIU Yang
Journal of Arid Land. 2016, 8 (2): 304-313.   DOI: yangzp@ms.xjb.ac.cn
Abstract ( 1275 )     PDF (114KB) ( 1697 )  
The impact of tourist disturbance on the environment has become a focal issue of environmental science, ecology, and travel management studies. To assess the influence of tourist disturbance on soils and plants in the Tianchi scenic area of Xinjiang, China, we compared soil properties and plant community characteristics at 0, 5, 10, and 20 m from the tourist trail within areas at three different altitudes, where the intensities of tourist disturbance are distinct. Surface water quality was also studied at three different levels relative to the Tianchi Lake. The results showed that tourist disturbance significantly increased soil pH within 10 m from the trail and soil bulk density on the edge of the trail, but significantly reduced soil organic matter and total nitrogen contents within 5 m from the trail. The number of tree seedlings on the edge of the trail and the shrub coverage and height of herbaceous plants within 5 m from the trail significantly decreased due to tourist disturbance. Changes in herbaceous plant diversity differed by soil zones. In the high altitude region, tourist disturbance led to a remarkable increase in the herbaceous plant diversity on the edge of the trail, while in the low altitude region, tourist disturbance had a low impact on the diversity of herbaceous plants. In addition, tourist activities polluted the surface water, significantly reducing water quality. Thus, current tourist activities have a significant negative impact on the ecological environment in the Tianchi scenic area.