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10 April 2018, Volume 10 Issue 2 Previous Issue    Next Issue
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Orginal Article
Model based decision support system for land use changes and socio-economic assessments
Yang YU, Xi CHEN, HUTTNER Philipp, HINNENTHAL Marie, BRIEDEN Andreas, Lingxiao SUN, DISSE Markus
Journal of Arid Land. 2018, 10 (2): 169-182.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-018-0091-1
Abstract ( 478 )   HTML ( 484 )     PDF (939KB) ( 1015 )  

Hydrological models are often linked with other models in cognate sciences to understand the interactions among climate, earth, water, ecosystem, and human society. This paper presents the development and implementation of a decision support system (DSS) that links the outputs of hydrological models with real-time decision making on social-economic assessments and land use management. Discharge and glacier geometry changes were simulated with hydrological model,water availability in semi-arid environments. Irrigation and ecological water were simulated by a new commercial software MIKE HYDRO. Groundwater was simulated by MODFLOW. All the outputs of theses hydrological models were taken as inputs into the DSS in three types of links: regression equations, stationary data inputs, or dynamic data inputs as the models running parallel in the simulation periods. The DSS integrates the hydrological data, geographic data, social and economic statistical data, and establishes the relationships with equations, conditional statements and fuzzy logics. The programming is realized in C++. The DSS has four remarkable features: (1) editable land use maps to assist decision-making; (2) conjunctive use of surface and groundwater resources; (3) interactions among water, earth, ecosystem, and humans; and (4) links with hydrological models. The overall goal of the DSS is to combine the outputs of scientific models, knowledge of experts, and perspectives of stakeholders, into a computer-based system, which allows sustainability impact assessment within regional planning; and to understand ecosystem services and integrate them into land and water management.

Vertical distribution and storage of soil organic and inorganic carbon in a typical inland river basin, Northwest China
Fan YANG, Laiming HUANG, Renmin YANG, Fei YANG, Decheng LI, Yuguo ZHAO, Jinling YANG, Feng LIU, Ganlin ZHANG
Journal of Arid Land. 2018, 10 (2): 183-201.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-018-0051-9
Abstract ( 491 )   HTML ( 487 )     PDF (390KB) ( 1025 )  

Knowledge of soil carbon (C) distribution and its relationship with the environment can improve our understanding of its biogeochemical cycling and help to establish sound regional models of C cycling. However, such knowledge is limited in environments with complex landscape configurations. In this study, we investigated the vertical distribution and storage of soil organic carbon (SOC) and soil inorganic carbon (SIC) in the 10 representative landscapes (alpine meadow, subalpine shrub and meadow, mountain grassland, mountain forest, typical steppe, desert steppe, Hexi Corridor oases cropland, Ruoshui River delta desert, Alxa Gobi desert, and sandy desert) with contrasting bioclimatic regimes in the Heihe River Basin, Northwest China. We also measured the 87Sr/86Sr ratio in soil carbonate to understand the sources of SIC because the ratio can be used as a proxy in calculating the contribution of pedogenic inorganic carbon (PIC) to total SIC. Our results showed that SOC contents generally decreased with increasing soil depth in all landscapes, while SIC contents exhibited more complicated variations along soil profiles in relation to pedogenic processes and parent materials at the various landscapes. There were significant differences of C stocks in the top meter among different landscapes, with SOC storage ranging from 0.82 kg C/m2 in sandy desert to 50.48 kg C/m2 in mountain forest and SIC storage ranging from 0.19 kg C/m2 in alpine meadow to 21.91 kg C/m2 in desert steppe. SIC contributed more than 75% of total C pool when SOC storage was lower than 10 kg C/m2, and the proportion of PIC to SIC was greater than 70% as calculated from Sr isotopic ratio, suggesting the critical role of PIC in the C budget of this region. The considerable variations of SOC and SIC in different landscapes were attributed to different pedogenic environments resulted from contrasting climatic regimes, parent materials and vegetation types. This study provides an evidence for a general trade-off pattern between SOC and SIC, showing the compensatory effects of environmental conditions (especially climate) on SOC and SIC formation in these landscapes. This is largely attributed to the fact that the overall decrease in temperature and increase in precipitation from arid deserts to alpine mountains simultaneously facilitate the accumulation of SOC and depletion of SIC.

Carbon storage in a wolfberry plantation chronosequence established on a secondary saline land in an arid irrigated area of Gansu Province, China
Quanlin MA, Yaolin WANG, Yinke LI, Tao SUN, MILNE Eleanor
Journal of Arid Land. 2018, 10 (2): 202-216.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-018-0053-7
Abstract ( 419 )   HTML ( 7 )     PDF (350KB) ( 891 )  

Carbon (C) storage has received significant attention for its relevance to agricultural security and climate change. Afforestation can increase C storage in terrestrial ecosystems, and has been recognized as an important measure to offset CO2 emissions. In order to analyze the C benefits of planting wolfberry (Lycium barbarum L.) on the secondary saline lands in arid areas, we conducted a case study on the dynamics of biomass carbon (BC) storage and soil organic carbon (SOC) storage in different-aged wolfberry plantations (4-, 7- and 11-year-old) established on a secondary saline land as well as on the influence of wolfberry plantations on C storage in the plant-soil system in an arid irrigated area (Jingtai County) of Gansu Province, China. The C sequestration and its potential in the wolfberry plantations of Gansu Province were also evaluated. An intact secondary saline land was selected as control. Results show that wolfberry planting could decrease soil salinity, and increase BC, SOC and litter C storage of the secondary saline land significantly, especially in the first 4 years after planting. The aboveground and belowground BC storage values in the intact secondary saline land (control) accounted for only 1.0% and 1.2% of those in the wolfberry plantations, respectively. Compared to the intact secondary saline land, the SOC storage values in the 4-, 7- and 11-year-old wolfberry plantations increased by 36.4%, 37.3% and 43.3%, respectively, and the SOC storage in the wolfberry plantations occupied more than 92% of the ecosystem C storage. The average BC and SOC sequestration rates of the wolfberry plantations for the age group of 0-11 years were 0.73 and 3.30 Mg C/(hm2?a), respectively. There were no significant difference in BC and SOC storage between the 7-year-old and 11-year-old wolfberry plantations, which may be due in part to the large amounts of C offtakes in new branches and fruits. In Gansu Province, the C storage in the wolfberry plantations has reached up to 3.574 Tg in 2013, and the C sequestration potential of the existing wolfberry plantations was 0.134 Tg C/a. These results indicate that wolfberry planting is an ideal agricultural model to restore the degraded saline lands and increase the C sequestration capacity of agricultural lands in arid areas.

Potassium forms in calcareous soils as affected by clay minerals and soil development in Kohgiluyeh and Boyer-Ahmad Province, Southwest Iran
Journal of Arid Land. 2018, 10 (2): 217-232.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-018-0052-8
Abstract ( 665 )   HTML ( 12 )     PDF (370KB) ( 994 )  

Potassium (K) is known as one of the essential nutrients for the growth of plant species. The relationship between K and clay minerals can be used to understand the K cycling, and assess the plant uptake and potential of soil K fertility. This study was conducted to analyze the K forms (soluble, exchangeable, non-exchangeable and structural) and the relationship of K forms with clay minerals of calcareous soils in Kohgiluyeh and Boyer-Ahmad Province, Southwest Iran. The climate is hotter and drier in the west and south of the province than in the east and north of the province. A total of 54 pedons were dug in the study area and 32 representative pedons were selected. The studied pedons were mostly located on calcareous deposits. The soils in the study area can be classified into 5 orders including Entisols, Inceptisols, Mollisols, Alfisols and Vertisols. The main soil clay minerals in the west and south of the study area were illite, chlorite and palygorskite, whereas they were smectite, vermiculite and illite in the north and east of the province. Due to large amount of smectite and high content of organic carbon in soil surface, the exchangeable K in surface soils was higher than that in subsurface soils. It seems that organic matter plays a more important role than smectite mineral in retaining exchangeable K in the studied soils. Non-exchangeable K exhibited close relationships with clay content, illite, vermiculite and smectite. Although the amount of illite was the same in almost all pedons, amounts of structural and non-exchangeable K were higher in humid regions than in arid and semi-arid regions. This difference may be related to the poor reservoir of K+ minerals like palygorskite and chlorite together with illite in arid and semi-arid regions. In humid areas, illite was accompanied by vermiculite and smectite as the K+ reservoir. Moreover, the mean cumulative non-exchangeable K released by CaCl2 was higher than that released by oxalic acid, which may be due to the high buffering capacity resulting from high carbonates in soils.

Forest recovery after clear-cutting in Chinese pine (Pinus tabuliformis) plantations of North China
Boqian DONG, Kuangji ZHAO, Zhibin WANG, Zhongkui JIA, Lvyi MA, Xinli XIA
Journal of Arid Land. 2018, 10 (2): 233-248.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-018-0004-3
Abstract ( 411 )   HTML ( 8 )     PDF (453KB) ( 884 )  

In Hebei Province of North China, forest was recovered with natural recruitment in plantations with large area of clear-cutting Chinese pine (Pinus tabuliformis). This study was aimed to demonstrate the dynamic characteristics of recruits during the natural recruitment. Both plot survey and the spatial point-pattern analysis were performed. Five developmental stages of natural recruitment were selected and studied, including 1 year before and 2, 5, 8, and 11 years after clear-cutting. Different slope aspects were also included. Natural recruitment was always dominated by Chinese pine with a proportion of higher than 90%. For plots of 1 year before clear-cutting on east- and north-facing slopes, recruit densities were 7886 and 5036 stems/hm2, the average heights were 0.78 (±0.85) and 1.06 (±1.15) m, and the average diameters at breast height (DBH) were 3.21 (±1.38) and 2.91 (±1.38) cm, respectively. After clear-cutting, recruit density was initially increased, then it was gradually declined with time; however, the variation of average DBH was contrary to that of recruit density. Both of them were no longer varied between 8 and 11 years after clear-cutting. The average height of recruits continued to increase after clear-cutting. For the plots of 11 years after clear-cutting on east- and north-facing slopes, average heights of recruits reached 2.00 (±1.14) and 2.24 (±1.20) m, respectively. The statuses of recruits on north-facing slopes were better than those on east-facing slopes after clear-cutting. Meanwhile, recruits on east-facing slopes were always aggregated at small scales, while spatial pattern of recruits varied with time on north-facing slopes. Moreover, forest was recovered more quickly by natural recruitment than by artificial afforestation after clear-cutting. The structural diversity was higher in naturally regenerated forests than in plantations of the same age. Our results demonstrated that clear-cutting of Chinese pine plantations recovered by natural recruitment has the potential to be an effective approach for establishing multifunctional forest.

Efficiency of soil and water conservation practices in different agro-ecological environments in the Upper Blue Nile Basin of Ethiopia
DagnenetSULTAN, TSUNEKAWA Atsushi, HAREGEWEYN Nigussie, ADGO Enyew, TSUBO Mitsuru, T MESHESHA Derege, MASUNAGA Tsugiyuki, AKLOG Dagnachew, A FENTA Ayele, EBABU Kindiye
Journal of Arid Land. 2018, 10 (2): 249-263.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-018-0097-8
Abstract ( 765 )   HTML ( 11 )     PDF (662KB) ( 1502 )  

In developing countries such as Ethiopia, research to develop and promote soil and water conservation practices rarely addressed regional diversity. Using a water-balance approach in this study, we used runoff plots from three sites, each representing a different agro-ecological environment, e.g.,high, mid and low in both elevation and rainfall, in the Upper Blue Nile Basin of Ethiopiato examine the runoff response and runoff conservation efficiency of a range of different soil and water conservation measures and their impacts on soil moisture. The plots at each site represented common land use types (cultivated vs. non-agricultural land use types) and slopes (gentle and steep). Seasonal runoff from control plots in the highlands ranged 214-560 versus 253-475 mm at midlands and 119-200 mm at lowlands. The three soil and water conservation techniques applied in cultivated land increased runoff conservation efficiency by 32% to 51%, depending on the site. At the moist subtropical site in a highland region, soil and water conservation increased soil moisture enough to potentially cause waterlogging, which was absent at the low-rainfall sites. Soil bunds combined with Vetiveriazizanioides grass in cultivated land and short trenches in grassland conserved the most runoff (51% and 55%, respectively). Runoff responses showed high spatial variation within and between land use types, causing high variation in soil and water conservation efficiency. Our results highlight the need to understand the role of the agro-ecological environment in the success of soil and water conservation measures to control runoff and hydrological dynamics. This understanding will support policy development to promote the adoption of suitable techniques that can be tested at other locations with similar soil, climatic, and topographic conditions.

Variations of the thermal growing season during the period 1961-2015 in northern China
Linli CUI, Jun SHI, Yue MA, Xiaochen LIU
Journal of Arid Land. 2018, 10 (2): 264-276.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-018-0001-6
Abstract ( 507 )   HTML ( 14 )     PDF (511KB) ( 1158 )  

Researching into changes in thermal growing season has been one of the most important scientific issues in studies of the impact of global climate change on terrestrial ecosystems. However, few studies investigated the differences under various definitions of thermal growing season and compared the trends of thermal growing season in different parts of China. Based on the daily mean air temperatures collected from 877 meteorological stations over northern China from 1961 to 2015, we investigated the variations of the thermal growing season parameters including the onset, ending and duration of the growing season using the methods of differential analysis, trend analysis, comparative analysis, and Kriging interpolation technique. Results indicate that the differences of the maximum values of those indices for the thermal growing season were significant, while they were insignificant for the mean values. For indices with the same length of the spells exceeding 5°C, frost criterion had a significant effect on the differences of the maximum values. The differences of the mean values between frost and non-frost indices were also slight, even smaller than those from the different lengths of the spells. Temporally, the starting date of the thermal growing season advanced by 10.0-11.0 days, while the ending dates delayed by 5.0-6.0 days during the period 1961-2015. Consequently, the duration of the thermal growing season was prolonged 15.0-16.0 days. Spatially, the advanced onset of the thermal growing season occurred in the southwestern, eastern, and northeastern parts of northern China, whereas the delayed ending of the thermal growing season appeared in the western part, and the length of the thermal growing season was prolonged significantly in the vast majority of northern China. The trend values of the thermal growing season were affected by altitude. The magnitude of the earlier onset of the thermal growing season decreased, and that of the later ending increased rapidly as the altitude increased, causing the magnitude of the prolonged growing season increased correspondingly. Comparing the applicability of selected indices and considering the impacts of frost on the definitions are important and necessary for determining the timing and length of the thermal growing season in northern China.

Effects of mulches on water use in a winter wheat/summer maize rotation systemin Loess Plateau, China
Minhua YIN, Yuannong LI, Yuanbo XU, Changming ZHOU
Journal of Arid Land. 2018, 10 (2): 277-291.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-018-0092-0
Abstract ( 433 )   HTML ( 13 )     PDF (477KB) ( 1327 )  

Limited water resources often result in reducedcrop yield and low water productivity(WP). In northwestern China, crop production is generally dependent on precipitation. Therefore, a variety of agricultural rainwaterharvesting (ARH) techniques have been used for conserving soil moisture, ameliorating soil environment, increasing crop yield, and improving water use efficiency. A two-year (2013-2015) field experiment was conducted under a typical sub-humid drought-prone climate in Yangling (108°24′E, 34°20′N; 521 m a.s.l.), Shaanxi Province, China, to explore the effects of mulching(same for summer maize and winter wheat) on soil moisture, soil temperature, crop water consumption, and crop yield with a winter wheat/summer maize rotation. Crops were planted in a ridge-furrow pattern and the treatments consisted of a transparent film mulch over the ridges (M1), a crop straw mulch in the furrows (M2), a transparent film mulch over the ridges and a crop straw mulch in the furrows (M3), a black film mulch over the ridges and a crop straw mulch in the furrows (M4), and a control with no mulch (CK). Results showed that M4 was the best treatment for improving soil water storage and content, and decreasing crop water consumption during the summer maize and winter wheat rotation.In both maize and wheat seasons, M1 had a higher soil temperature than M2 and CK, and M3 had a higher soil temperature than M4. In the maize seasons, M4 had the highest yield, WP, and precipitation productivity (PP), with the average values for these parameters increasing by 30.9%, 39.0%, and 31.0%, respectively, compared to those in CK. In the wheat seasons, however, M3 had the highest yield, WP, and PP, with the average values for these parameters being 23.7%, 26.7%, and 23.8% higher, respectively, than those in CK. Annual yield (maize and wheat yields combined) and WP did not differ significantly between M3 and M4. These results suggested that M3 and M4 may thus be the optimal ARH practices for the production of winter wheat and summer maize, respectively, in arid and semi-arid areas.

Planting density affected biomass and grain yield of maize for seed production in an arid region of Northwest China
Xuelian JIANG, Ling TONG, Shaozhong KANG, Fusheng LI, Donghao LI, Yonghui QIN, Rongchao SHI, Jianbing LI
Journal of Arid Land. 2018, 10 (2): 292-303.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-018-0098-7
Abstract ( 522 )   HTML ( 9 )     PDF (392KB) ( 1257 )  

Field experiments were conducted from 2012 to 2015 in an arid region of Northwest China to investigate the effects of planting density on plant growth, yield, and water use efficiency (WUE) of maize for seed production. Five planting densities of 6.75, 8.25, 9.75, 11.25and 12.75 plants/m2 were conducted in 2012, and a planting density of 14.25plants/m2 was added from 2013 to 2015.Through comparison with the AquaCrop yield model, a modified model was developed to estimate the biomass accumulation and yield under different planting densities using adjustment coefficient for normalized biomass water productivityand harvest index. It was found that the modified yield model had a better performance and could generate results with higher determination coefficient and lower error. The results indicated that higher planting density increased the leaf area index and biomass accumulation, but decreased the biomass accumulation per plant. The total yield increased rapidly as planting density increased to 11.25 plants/m2, but only a slight increase was observed when the density was greater than 11.25 plants/m2. The WUE also reached the maximum when planting density was 11.25 plants/m2, which was the recommended planting density of maize for seed production in Northwest China.

Effects of temperature and water limitation on the germination of Stipagrostis ciliata seeds collected from Sidi Bouzid Governorate in Central Tunisia
Journal of Arid Land. 2018, 10 (2): 304-315.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-018-0050-x
Abstract ( 369 )   HTML ( 6 )     PDF (333KB) ( 1340 )  

Most ecological studies in North Africa reveal a process of continuous degradation of rangeland ecosystems as a result of overgrazing. This degradation appears across the decreasing of perennial grass diversity. Indeed, the majority of steppe ecosystems are characterized by a low density of perennial grass species at present. This study evaluated the effects of temperature and water limitation on the seed germination of Stipagrostis ciliata (Desf.) de Winter, a perennial grass species. The seeds were collected from the Bou Hedma Park, Sidi Bouzid Governorate, Central Tunisia. The thermal time and hydrothermal time models were used to describe the seed germination of S. ciliata under different water potentials and temperatures. The germination response of S. ciliata seeds in darkness was evaluated over a range of temperatures (15°C, 20°C, 25°C, 30°C and 35°C) and across a wide range of osmotic potentials (0.0, -0.2, -0.6, -1.2, -1.6 and -2.0 MPa) of the polyethylene glycol (PEG6000) solutions at each temperature level. Among the tested temperatures, 25°C was found to be the optimal temperature to the germination of S. ciliata seeds. The final germination percentage (75.2%) was obtained with distilled water. The progressive decrease of osmotic potential of the PEG6000 solutions inhibited the seed germination. However, the number of days to first germination was increased with a reduction of osmotic potential. A significant positive relationship was identified between final germination percentage of S. ciliata seeds and osmotic potential of the PEG6000 solutions, with R2 ranging from 0.5678 to 0.8761. Furthermore, a high degree of congruency between predicted and observed germination time course curves was observed. In general, S. ciliata exhibits a significant adaptation capacity for water limitation and high temperature in arid ecosystems.

Regional difference and dynamic mechanism of locality of the Chinese farming-pastoral ecotone based on geotagged photos from Panoramio
Fang WANG, Yixi LI, Ying DONG, Xiaohua ZHU
Journal of Arid Land. 2018, 10 (2): 316-333.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-018-0003-4
Abstract ( 533 )   HTML ( 7 )     PDF (720KB) ( 998 )  

Cross-regional locality research reflects the influences of natural environment and the human activities due to the abundant land types and the multiple landscape combinations in related regions. The Chinese farming-pastoral ecotone is a typical large-scale region but few studies were conducted. This research contributed to the understanding of cross-regional locality of the Chinese farming-pastoral ecotone from different scales, including national, sectional, and provincial administrative units by utilizing geotagged photos (GTPs) obtained from the Panoramio website. The major results were as follows: (1) the locality elements of the Chinese farming-pastoral ecotone included 52 free nodes classified into 8 types of scene attributes; (2) there were huge differences between locality elements of different regions, and there was a negative correlation between the similarity degree of elements of different provinces and their spatial distances; (3) the Chinese farming-pastoral ecotone could be divided into the northern, central and southern sections, whose localities had differences in element constitution, association structure and the strength of elements, system stability and the anti-interference capability; and (4) the evolution of the localities of the northern and central sections was mainly influenced by human activities, while the locality of southern section retained more natural features. On a theoretical level, this research aimed to establish the research methodology of locality from the perspective of open data on the web with strong operability and replicability. On a practical level, this research could enrich the structuring recognition of the locality of the Chinese farming-pastoral ecotone and the comprehension of its dynamic mechanism. The results provide a reference for locality differentiation protection and the development of a cross-regional scale.