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10 February 2018, Volume 10 Issue 1 Previous Issue    Next Issue
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Orginal Article
Determinants and rates of land degradation: Application of stationary time-series model to data from a semi-arid environment in Kenya
Z MGANGA Kevin, M NYARIKI Dickson, K R MUSIMBA Nashon, A AMWATA Dorothy
Journal of Arid Land. 2018, 10 (1): 1-11.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-017-0036-0
Abstract ( 568 )   HTML ( 142 )     PDF (293KB) ( 1380 )  

The causes of land degradation in the African drylands have been shown to vary. Some researchers consider climate to be the major contributor to degradation, with anthropogenic factors playing a minor role. Others reverse the significance of these two factors. A third group attributes land degradation to climate and anthropogenic factors equally. This study was undertaken to establish the factors influencing land degradation in a semi-arid environment in southeastern Kenya and the rate of change in vegetation types for a period of 35 years (1973-2007). The reduction in grassland cover was used as an indicator of land degradation. Causes of land degradation were determined by a multiple regression analysis. A log-linear regression analysis was used to establish the rate of vegetation change. The multiple and log-linear regression analyses showed: (1) woody vegetation, livestock population and cultivated area to be the main contributors of reduction in grassland cover in the area, and (2) an increase in undesirable woody species, livestock population and cultivated area had a significant (P<0.05) negative effect on grassland vegetation. Increased human population, low amounts of rainfall and drought showed no significant negative effect on grassland vegetation cover. In conclusion, human and livestock population growth and increased agricultural land have contributed to intensive crop cultivation and overgrazing in the semi-arid lands. This overuse of the semi-arid rangelands has worsened the deterioration of the natural grassland vegetation.

Monitoring desertification processes in Mongolian Plateau using MODIS tasseled cap transformation and TGSI time series
Qingsheng LIU, Gaohuan LIU, Chong HUANG
Journal of Arid Land. 2018, 10 (1): 12-26.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-017-0109-0
Abstract ( 722 )   HTML ( 144 )     PDF (987KB) ( 1866 )  

Most remote sensing studies assess the desertification using vegetation monitoring method. But it has the insufficient precision of vegetation monitoring for the limited vegetation cover of the desertification region. Therefore, it offers an alternative approach for the desertification research to assess sand dune and sandy land change using remote sensing in the desertification region. In this study, the indices derived from the well-known tasseled cap transformation (TCT), tasseled cap angle (TCA), disturbance index (DI), process indicator (PI), and topsoil grain size index (TGSI) were integrated to monitor and assess the desertification at the thirteen study sites including sand dunes and sandy lands distributed in the Mongolian Plateau (MP) from 2000 to 2015. A decision tree was used to classify the desertification on a regional scale. The average overall accuracy of 2000, 2005, 2010 and 2015 desertification classification was higher than 90%. Results from this study indicated that integration of the advantages of TCA, DI and TGSI could better assess the desertification. During the last 16 years, Badain Jaran Desert, Tengger Desert, and Ulan Buh Desert showed a relative stabilization. Otindag Sandy Land and the deserts of Khar Nuur, Ereen Nuur, Tsagan Nuur, Khongoryn Els, Hobq, and Mu Us showed a slow increasing of desertification, whereas Bayan Gobi, Horqin and Hulun Buir sandy lands showed a slow decreasing of desertification. Compared with the other 11 sites, the fine sand dunes occupied the majority of the Tengger Desert, and the coarse sandy land occupied the majority of the Horqin Sandy Land. Our findings on a three or four years’ periodical fluctuated changes in the desertification may possibly reflect changing precipitation and soil moisture in the MP. Further work to link the TCA, DI, TGSI, and PI values with the desertification characteristics is recommended to set the thresholds and improve the assessment accuracy with field investigation.

A field investigation of wind erosion in the farming-pastoral ecotone of northern China using a portable wind tunnel: a case study in Yanchi County
Ling NAN, Zhibao DONG, Weiqiang XIAO, Chao LI, Nan XIAO, Shaopeng SONG, Fengjun XIAO, Lingtong DU
Journal of Arid Land. 2018, 10 (1): 27-38.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-017-0073-8
Abstract ( 628 )   HTML ( 9 )     PDF (385KB) ( 1095 )  

The farming-pastoral ecotone in northern China is an extremely fragile ecological zone where wind erosion of cropland and rangeland is easy to occur. In this study, using a portable wind tunnel as a wind simulator, we conducted field simulated wind erosion experiments combined with laboratory analysis to investigate wind erosion of soils in trampled rangeland, non-tilled cropland and tilled cropland in Yanchi County, China. The results showed that compared with rangeland, the cropland had a higher soil water holding capacity and lower soil bulk density. The wind erosion rate of trampled rangeland was much higher than those of non-tilled cropland and tilled cropland. For cropland, the wind erosion rate of the soil after tilling was surprisingly less than that of the soil before tilling. With increasing of wind speed, the volume mean diameter of the eroded sediment collected by the trough in the wind tunnel generally increased while the clay and silt content decreased for all soils. The temporal variation in wind erosion of the trampled rangeland indicated that particle entrainment and dust emission decreased exponentially with erosion time through the successive wind erosion events due to the exhaustion of erodible particles.

Influences of sand cover on erosion processes of loess slopes based on rainfall simulation experiments
Xiang ZHANG, Zhanbin LI, Peng LI, Shanshan TANG, Tian WANG, Hui ZHANG
Journal of Arid Land. 2018, 10 (1): 39-52.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-017-0074-7
Abstract ( 539 )   HTML ( 8 )     PDF (357KB) ( 1216 )  

Aeolian-fluvial interplay erosion regions are subject to intense soil erosion and are of particular concern in loess areas of northwestern China. Understanding the composition, distribution, and transport processes of eroded sediments in these regions is of considerable scientific significance for controlling soil erosion. In this study, based on laboratory rainfall simulation experiments, we analyzed rainfall-induced erosion processes on sand-covered loess slopes (SS) with different sand cover patterns (including length and thickness) and uncovered loess slopes (LS) to investigate the influences of sand cover on erosion processes of loess slopes in case regions of aeolian-fluvial erosion. The grain-size curves of eroded sediments were fitted using the Weibull function. Compositions of eroded sediments under different sand cover patterns and rainfall intensities were analyzed to explore sediment transport modes of SS. The influences of sand cover amount and pattern on erosion processes of loess slopes were also discussed. The results show that sand cover on loess slopes influences the proportion of loess erosion and that the compositions of eroded sediments vary between SS and LS. Sand cover on loess slopes transforms silt erosion into sand erosion by reducing splash erosion and changing the rainfall-induced erosion processes. The percentage of eroded sand from SS in the early stage of runoff and sediment generation is always higher than that in the late stage. Sand cover on loess slopes aggravates loess erosion, not only by adding sand as additional eroded sediments but also by increasing the amount of eroded loess, compared with the loess slopes without sand cover. The influence of sand cover pattern on runoff yield and the amount of eroded sediments is larger than that of sand cover amount. Furthermore, given the same sand cover pattern, a thicker sand cover could increase sand erosion while a thinner sand cover could aggravate loess erosion. This difference explains the existence of intense erosion on slopes that are thinly covered with sand in regions where aeolian erosion and fluvial erosion interact.

Reconstruction of hydrological changes based on tree-ring data of the Haba River, northwestern China
Tongwen ZHANG, Yujiang YUAN, Feng CHEN, Shulong YU, Ruibo ZHANG, Li QIN, Shengxia JIANG
Journal of Arid Land. 2018, 10 (1): 53-67.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-017-0034-2
Abstract ( 438 )   HTML ( 9 )     PDF (552KB) ( 1325 )  

Reconstructing the hydrological change based on dendrohydrological data has important implications for understanding the dynamic distribution and evolution pattern of a given river. The widespread, long-living coniferous forests on the Altay Mountains provide a good example for carrying out the dendrohydrological studies. In this study, a regional composite tree-ring width chronology developed by Larix sibirica Ledeb. and Picea obovata Ledeb. was used to reconstruct a 301-year annual (from preceding July to succeeding June) streamflow for the Haba River, which originates in the southern Altay Mountains, Xinjiang, China. Results indicated that the reconstructed streamflow series and the observations were fitting well, and explained 47.5% of the variation in the observed streamflow of 1957-2008. Moreover, floods and droughts in 1949-2000 were precisely captured by the streamflow reconstruction. Based on the frequencies of the wettest/driest years and decades, we identified the 19th century as the century with the largest occurrence of hydrological fluctuations for the last 300 years. After applying a 21-year moving average, we found five wet (1724-1758, 1780-1810, 1822-1853, 1931-1967, and 1986-2004) and four dry (1759-1779, 1811-1821, 1854-1930, and 1968-1985) periods in the streamflow reconstruction. Furthermore, four periods (1770-1796, 1816-1836, 1884-1949, and 1973-1997) identified by the streamflow series had an obvious increasing trend. The increasing trend of streamflow since the 1970s was the biggest in the last 300 years and coincided with the recent warming-wetting trend in northwestern China. A significant correlation between streamflow and precipitation in the Altay Mountains indicated that the streamflow reconstruction contained not only local, but also broad-scale, hydro-climatic signals. The 24-year, 12-year, and 2.2-4.5-year cycles of the reconstruction revealed that the streamflow variability of the Haba River may be influenced by solar activity and the atmosphere-ocean system.

Potential of rooftop rainwater harvesting to meet outdoor water demand in arid regions
Journal of Arid Land. 2018, 10 (1): 68-83.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-017-0110-7
Abstract ( 400 )   HTML ( 9 )     PDF (762KB) ( 1706 )  

The feasibility of rooftop rainwater harvesting (RRWH) as an alternative source of water to meet the outdoor water demand in nine states of the U.S. was evaluated using a system dynamics model developed in Systems Thinking, Experimental Learning Laboratory with Animation. The state of Arizona was selected to evaluate the effects of the selected model parameters on the efficacy of RRWH since among the nine states the arid region of Arizona showed the least potential of meeting the outdoor water demand with rain harvested water. The analyses were conducted on a monthly basis across a 10-year projected period from 2015 to 2024. The results showed that RRWH as a potential source of water was highly sensitive to certain model parameters such as the outdoor water demand, the use of desert landscaping, and the percentage of existing houses with RRWH. A significant difference (as high as 37.5%) in rainwater potential was observed between the projected wet and dry climate conditions in Arizona. The analysis of the dynamics of the storage tanks suggested that a 1.0-2.0 m3 rainwater barrel, on an average, can store approximately 80% of the monthly rainwater generated from the rooftops in Arizona, even across the high seasonal variation. This interactive model can be used as a quick estimator of the amount of water that could be generated, stored, and utilized through RRWH systems in the U.S. under different climate conditions. The findings of such comprehensive analyses may help regional policymakers, especially in arid regions, to develop a sustainable water management infrastructure.

Utilizing a new soil effective temperature scheme and archived satellite microwave brightness temperature data to estimate surface soil moisture in the Nagqu region, Tibetan Plateau of China
Hui TIAN, IQBAL Mudassar
Journal of Arid Land. 2018, 10 (1): 84-100.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-017-0075-6
Abstract ( 597 )   HTML ( 15 )     PDF (681KB) ( 1058 )  

Since the early 2000s, many satellite passive microwave brightness temperature (BT) archives, such as the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer for the Earth Observing System (AMSR-E) BTs, have become the useful resources for assessing the changes in the surface and deep soil moistures over both arid and semi-arid regions. In this study, we used a new soil effective temperature (Teff) scheme and the archived AMSR-E BTs to estimate surface soil moisture (SM) over the Nagqu region in the central Tibetan Plateau, China. The surface and deep soil temperatures required for the calculation of regional-scale Teff were obtained from outputs of the Community Land Model version 4.5 (CLM4.5). In situ SM measurements at the CEOP-CAMP/Tibet (Coordinated Enhanced Observing Period Asia-Australia Monsoon Project on the Tibetan Plateau) experimental sites were used to validate the AMSR-E-based SM estimations at regional and single-site scales. Furthermore, the spatial distribution of monthly mean surface SM over the Nagqu region was obtained from 16 daytime AMSR-E BT observations in July 2004 over the Nagqu region. Results revealed that the AMSR-E-based surface SM estimations agreed well with the in situ-based surface SM measurements, with the root mean square error (RMSE) ranging from 0.042 to 0.066 m3/m3 and the coefficient of determination (R2) ranging from 0.71 to 0.92 during the nighttime and daytime. The regional surface soil water state map showed a clear spatial pattern related to the terrain. It indicated that the lower surface SM values occurred in the mountainous areas of the northern, mid-western and southeastern parts of Nagqu region, while the higher surface SM values appeared in the low elevation areas such as the Tongtian River Basin, Namco Lake and bog meadows in the central part of Nagqu region. Our analysis also showed that the new Teff scheme does not require special fitting parameters or additional assumptions, which simplifies the data requirements for regional-scale applications. This scheme combined with the archived satellite passive microwave BT observations can be used to estimate the historical surface SM for hydrological process studies over the Tibetan Plateau regions.

Spatio-temporal variations of soil water content and salinity around individual Tamarix ramosissima in a semi-arid saline region of the upper Yellow River, Northwest China
Benman YANG, Ruoshui WANG, Huijie XIAO, Qiqi CAO, Tao LIU
Journal of Arid Land. 2018, 10 (1): 101-114.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-017-0072-9
Abstract ( 591 )   HTML ( 5 )     PDF (310KB) ( 1138 )  

Ecological restoration by Tamarix plants on semi-arid saline lands affects the accumulation, distribution patterns and related mechanisms of soil water content and salinity. In this study, spatio-temporal variations of soil water content and salinity around natural individual Tamarix ramosissima Ledeb. were invetigated in a semi-arid saline region of the upper Yellow River, Northwest China. Specifically, soil water content, electrical conductivity (ECe), sodium adsorption ratio (SARe), and salt ions (including Na+, K+, Ca2+, Mg2+ and SO42-) were measured at different soil depths and at different distances from the trunk of T. ramosissima in May, July, and September 2016. The soil water content at the 20-80 cm depth was significantly lower in July and September than in May, indicating that T. ramosissima plants absorb a large amount of water through the roots during the growing period, leading to the decreasing of soil water content in the deep soil layer. At the 0-20 cm depth, there was a salt island effect around individual T. ramosissima, and the ECe differed significantly inside and outside the canopy of T. ramosissima in May and July. Salt bioaccumulation and stemflow were two major contributing factors to this difference. The SARe at the 0-20 cm depth was significantly different inside and outside the canopy of T. ramosissima in the three sampling months. The values of SARe at the 60-80 cm depth in May and July were significantly higher than those at the 0-60 cm depth and higher than that at the corresponding depth in September. The distribution of Na+ in the soil was similar to that of the SARe, while the concentrations of K+, Ca2+, and Mg2+ showed significant differences among the sampling months and soil depths. Both season and soil depth had highly significant effects on soil water content, ECe and SARe, whereas distance from the trunk of T. ramosissima only significantly affected ECe. Based on these results, we recommend co-planting of shallow-rooted salt-tolerant species near the Tamarix plants and avoiding planting herbaceous plants inside the canopy of T. ramosissima for afforestation in this semi-arid saline region. The results of this study may provide a reference for appropriate restoration in the semi-arid saline regions of the upper Yellow River.

Decomposition characteristics of organic materials and their effects on labile and recalcitrant organic carbon fractions in a semi-arid soil under plastic mulch and drip irrigation
Juan HU, Jinggui WU, Xiaojing QU
Journal of Arid Land. 2018, 10 (1): 115-128.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-017-0035-1
Abstract ( 829 )   HTML ( 8 )     PDF (421KB) ( 1567 )  

Labile organic carbon (LC) and recalcitrant organic carbon (RC) are two major fractions of soil organic carbon (SOC) and play a critical role in organic carbon turnover and sequestration. The aims of this study were to evaluate the variations of LC and RC in a semi-arid soil (Inner Mongolia, China) under plastic mulch and drip irrigation after the application of organic materials (OMs), and to explore the effects of OMs from various sources on LC and RC by probing the decomposition characteristics of OMs using in-situ nylon mesh bags burying method. The field experiment included seven treatments, i.e., chicken manure (CM), sheep manure (SM), mushroom residue (MR), maize straw (MS), fodder grass (FG), tree leaves (TL) and no OMs as a control (CK). Soil LC and RC were separated by Huygens D’s method (particle size-density), and the average soil mass recovery rate and carbon recovery rate were above 95%, which indicated this method was suitable for carbon pools size analysis. The LC and RC contents significantly (P<0.01) increased after the application of OMs. Moreover, LC and RC contents were 3.2%-8.6% and 5.0%-9.4% higher in 2016 than in 2015. The applications of CM and SM significantly increased (P<0.01) LC content and LC/SOC ratio, whereas they were the lowest after the application of TL. However, SOC and RC contents were significantly higher (P<0.01) after the applications of TL and MS. The correlation analysis indicated the decomposition rate of OMs was positively related with LC content and LC/SOC ratio. In addition, lignin, polyphenol, WOM (total water-soluble organic matter), WHA (water-soluble humic acid), HSL (humic-like substance) and HAL (humic acid-like) contents in initial OMs played important roles in SOC and RC. In-situ nylon mesh bags burying experiment indicated the decomposition rates of CM, SM and MS were significantly higher than those of MR, FG, and TL. Furthermore, MS could result in more lignin derivatives, WHA, and HAL polymers in shorter time during the decomposition process. In conclusion, the application of MS in the semi-arid soil under a long-term plastic mulch and drip irrigation condition could not only improve soil fertility, but also enhance soil carbon sequestration.

Effects of long-term cultivation practices and nitrogen fertilization rates on carbon stock in a calcareous soil on the Chinese Loess Plateau
Miao CAI, Zhujun CHEN, Jianbin ZHOU, Jichang HAN, Qianyun SHI
Journal of Arid Land. 2018, 10 (1): 129-139.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-017-0019-1
Abstract ( 514 )   HTML ( 11 )     PDF (274KB) ( 1628 )  

Soil organic carbon (SOC) and soil inorganic carbon (SIC) are important C pools in the Loess Plateau of Northwest China, however, variations of SOC and SIC stocks under different cultivation practices and nitrogen (N) fertilization rates are not clear in this area. A long-term field experiment started in June 2003 was conducted to investigate the SOC and SIC stocks in a calcareous soil of the Chinese Loess Plateau under four cultivation practices, i.e., fallow (FA), conventional cultivation (CC), straw mulch (SM), and plastic film-mulched ridge and straw-mulched furrow (RF), in combination with three N fertilization rates, i.e., 0 (N0), 120 (N120), and 240 (N240) kg N/hm2. Results indicate that the crop straw addition treatments (SM and RF) increased the contents of soil microbial biomass C (SMBC) and SOC, and the SOC stock increased by 10.1%-13.3% at the upper 20 cm soil depth in comparison to the 8-year fallow (FA) treatment. Meanwhile, SIC stock significantly increased by 19% at the entire tested soil depth range (0-100 cm) under all crop cultivation practices in comparison to that of soil exposed to the long-term fallow treatment, particularly at the upper 60 cm soil depth. Furthermore, moderate N fertilizer application (120 kg N/hm2) increased SOC stock at the upper 40 cm soil depth, whereas SIC stock decreased as the N fertilization rate increased. We conclude that the combined application of crop organic residues and moderate N fertilization rate could facilitate the sequestrations of SOC and SIC in the calcareous soil.

Habitat, occurrence and conservation status of the Saharo-Macaronesian and Southern-Mediterranean element Fagonia cretica L. (Zygophyllaceae) in Italy
Journal of Arid Land. 2018, 10 (1): 140-151.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-017-0076-5
Abstract ( 456 )   HTML ( 7 )     PDF (306KB) ( 1180 )  

Fagonia cretica L. is an important component of Mediterranean dry grasslands and a rare and isolated species of Italian flora. In this study, an assessment is presented on the distribution, habitat, and conservation status of F. cretica in Italy. The results of field investigation and herbarium analysis show that this species grows in a small area within the southern Calabria region characterized by a warmest and driest Mediterranean climate on the Italian peninsula. F. cretica is a semi-desert plant species growing in Italy in only one peripheral and isolated population at the northern limit of its distribution. Plant community analysis, using the phytosociological method, shows that F. cretica grows in wintergreen perennial dry grasslands dominated by Lygeum spartum and Hyparrhenia hirta. F. cretica plant communities are located in thermo-xeric habits such as south-, southeast- and east-facing slopes on clays and sandy clays in southern Calabria. The population of F. cretica is fragmented in six neighbouring localities, with two of which belonging to a Site of Community Importance (SCI). The conservation status of F. cretica population is not very good, and is defined as “Critically Endangered” in accordance with IUCN criteria. There are many threats affecting the F. cretica population in Italy, primarily the changes in land uses due to urban expansion and reforestation with exotic plants. The southern end of the Italian peninsula hosts other plants from thermo-xeric habits that do not adapt to the current local climate. This territory can be considered as a microrefugia for plants currently distributed in the arid territory of the southern Mediterranean. These results contribute to the discussion of some conservation measures, and the possibility of establishing a micro-reserve. For all these reasons, we propose to include F. cretica in the lists of protected plant species at regional (Calabria) and country (Italy) scales in Italy.

Desiccation tolerance in bryophytes: the rehydration proteomes of Bryum argenteum provide insights into the resuscitation mechanism
Bei GAO, Daoyuan ZHANG, Xiaoshuang LI, Honglan YANG, Yuqing LIANG, Moxian CHEN, Yuanming ZHANG, Jianhua ZHANG, WOOD Andrew
Journal of Arid Land. 2018, 10 (1): 152-167.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-017-0033-3
Abstract ( 599 )   HTML ( 9 )     PDF (660KB) ( 1463 )  

Bryum argenteum Hedw. is a desiccation tolerant bryophyte and belongs to one of the most important components of the biological soil crusts (BSCs) found in the deserts of Central Asia. Limited information is available on rehydration-responsive proteins in desiccation tolerant plants. As a complement to our previous research analyzing the rehydration transcriptome, we present a parallel quantitative proteomic effort to study rehydration-responsive proteins. Bryophyte gametophores were desiccated (Dry) and rehydrated for 2 h (R2) and 24 h (R24). Proteins from Dry, R2 and R24 gametophores were labeled by isobaric tags for relative and absolute quantitation (iTRAQ) to determine the relative abundance of rehydration-responsive proteins. A total of 5503 non-redundant protein sequences were identified and 4772 (86.7%) protein sequences were annotated using Gene Ontology (GO) terms and Pfam classifications. Upon rehydration 239 proteins were elevated and 461 proteins were reduced as compared to the desiccated protein sample. Differentially up-regulated proteins were classified into a number of categories including reactive oxygen species scavenging enzymes, detoxifying enzymes, Late Embryogenesis Abundant (LEA) proteins, heat shock proteins, proteasome components and proteases, and photosynthesis and translation related proteins. Furthermore, the results of the correlation between transcriptome and proteome revealed the discordant changes in the expression between protein and mRNA.