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10 June 2018, Volume 10 Issue 3 Previous Issue    Next Issue
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Orginal Article
Revegetation with artificial plants improves topsoil hydrological properties but intensifies deep-soil drying in northern Loess Plateau, China
Qingyin ZHANG, Xiaoxu JIA, Chunlei ZHAO, Ming'an SHAO
Journal of Arid Land. 2018, 10 (3): 335-346.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-018-0007-0
Abstract ( 456 )   HTML ( 429 )     PDF (447KB) ( 1247 )  

Knowledge about the effects of vegetation types on soil properties and on water dynamics in the soil profile is critical for revegetation strategies in water-scarce regions, especially the choice of vegetation type and human management measures. We focused on the analysis of the effects of vegetation type on soil hydrological properties and soil moisture variation in the 0-400 cm soil layer based on a long-term (2004―2016) experimental data in the northern Loess Plateau region, China. Soil bulk density (BD), saturated soil hydraulic conductivity (Ks), field capacity (FC) and soil organic carbon (SOC) in 2016, as well as the volumetric soil moisture content during 2004-2016, were measured in four vegetation types, i.e., shrubland (korshinsk peashrub), artificial grassland (alfalfa), fallow land and cropland (millet or potato). Compared with cropland, revegetation with peashrub and alfalfa significantly decreased BD and increased Ks, FC, and SOC in the 0-40 cm soil layer, and fallow land significantly increased FC and SOC in the 0-10 cm soil layer. Soil water storage (SWS) significantly declined in shrubland and grassland in the 40-400 cm soil layer, causing severe soil drought in the deep soil layers. The study suggested that converting cropland to grassland (alfalfa) and shrubland (peashrub) improved soil-hydrological properties, but worsened water conditions in the deep soil profile. However, natural restoration did not intensify deep-soil drying. The results imply that natural restoration could be better than revegetation with peashrub and alfalfa in terms of good soil hydrological processes in the semi-arid Loess Plateau region.

CO2, CH4 and N2O flux changes in degraded grassland soil of Inner Mongolia, China
Yunxiao BAI, Xiaobing LI, Wanyu WEN, Xue MI, Ruihua LI, Qi HUANG, Meng ZHANG
Journal of Arid Land. 2018, 10 (3): 347-361.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-018-0101-3
Abstract ( 518 )   HTML ( 199 )     PDF (714KB) ( 1464 )  

The main purpose of this study was to explore the dynamic changes of greenhouse gas (GHG) from grasslands under different degradation levels during the growing seasons of Inner Mongolia, China.Grassland degradation is associated with the dynamics of GHG fluxes, e.g., CO2, CH4 and N2O fluxes. As one of the global ecological environmental problems, grassland degradation has changed the vegetation productivity as well as the accumulation and decomposition rates of soil organic matter and thus will influence the carbon and nitrogen cycles of ecosystems, which will affect the GHG fluxes between grassland ecosystems and the atmosphere. Therefore, it is necessary to explore how the exchanges of CO2, CH4 and N2O fluxes between soil and atmosphere are influenced by the grassland degradation.We measured the fluxes of CO2, CH4 and N2O in lightly degraded, moderately degraded and severely degraded grasslands in Inner Mongolia of China during the growing seasons from July to September in 2013 and 2014. The typical semi-arid grassland of Inner Mongolia plays a role as the source of atmospheric CO2 and N2O and the sink for CH4. Compared with CO2 fluxes, N2O and CH4 fluxes were relatively low. The exchange of CO2, N2O and CH4 fluxes between the grassland soil and the atmosphere may exclusively depend on the net exchange rate of CO2 in semi-arid grasslands. The greenhouse gases showed a clear seasonal pattern, with the CO2fluxes of -33.63-386.36 mg/(m?h), CH4 uptake fluxes of 0.113-0.023 mg/(m?h) and N2O fluxes of -1.68-19.90 μg/(m?h). Grassland degradation significantly influenced CH4 uptake but had no significant influence on CO2 and N2O emissions. Soil moisture and temperature were positively correlated with CO2 emissions but had no significant effect on N2O fluxes. Soil moisture may be the primary driving factor for CH4 uptake.The research results can be in help to better understand the impact of grassland degradation on the ecological environment.

Film-mulched continuous ridge-furrow planting improves soil temperature, nutrient content and enzymatic activity in a winter oilseed rape field, Northwest China
Xiaobo GU, Yuannong LI, Yadan DU
Journal of Arid Land. 2018, 10 (3): 362-374.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-018-0055-5
Abstract ( 405 )   HTML ( 12 )     PDF (405KB) ( 1061 )  

Film mulching system is a widely employed agricultural practice worldwide. However, the effects of different planting and mulching patterns on soil nutrient content and enzymatic activity have not been well documented. In this study, we examined the impact of four planting and mulching patterns (including control, flat planting without mulching; M1, flat planting with film mulching; M2, ridge-furrow planting with film mulching on both ridges and furrows; and M3, ridge-furrow planting with film mulching on continuous ridges) on the seed yield of winter oilseed rape, soil moisture, soil temperature, soil organic carbon (SOC) content, soil nutrient content, and soil enzymatic activity over three growing seasons from 2012 to 2015 in a winter oilseed rape field in the semi-arid area of Northwest China. Seed yield of winter oilseed rape, soil moisture, soil temperature, enzymatic activities, and contents of nitrate-nitrogen, available phosphorus, and available potassium were all significantly higher in mulching treatments (M1, M2 and M3) than in control treatment over the three growing seasons, whereas SOC content was significantly lower in mulching treatments than in control treatment during 2013-2014 and 2014-2015. Among the three mulching treatments (M1, M2 and M3), the M3 treatment showed consistently higher seed yield, SOC content, nutrient contents, and enzymatic activities than the other two treatments. Seed yield of winter oilseed rape was 41.1% and 15.0% higher in M3 than in M1 and M2, respectively. SOC content and soil enzymatic activities in the top 0-20 cm soil layers and nitrate-nitrogen content in the top 0-30 cm soil layers were all significantly higher in M3 than in M1 and M2. Therefore, we advise the ridge-furrow planting with film mulching on continuous ridges (i.e., M3) as an efficient planting and mulching pattern for sustainably improving the seed yield of winter oilseed rape and preserving soil fertility in the semi-arid area of Northwest China.

Attribution of explanatory factors for change in soil organic carbon density in the native grasslands of Inner Mongolia, China
Dongyan JIN, J MURRAY Phil, Xiaoping XIN, Yifei QIN, Baorui CHEN, Gele QING, Zhao ZHANG, Ruirui YAN
Journal of Arid Land. 2018, 10 (3): 375-387.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-018-0056-4
Abstract ( 424 )   HTML ( 5 )     PDF (265KB) ( 945 )  

The variation in soil organic carbon density (SOCD) has been widely documented at various spatial and temporal scales. However, an accurate method for examining the attribution of explanatory factors for change in SOCD is still lacking. This study aims to attribute and quantify the key climatic factors, anthropogenic activities, and soil properties associated with SOCD change in the native grasslands of Inner Mongolia, China, by comparing data between the 1960s and the 2010s. In 2007 and 2011, we resampled 142 soil profiles which were originally sampled during 1963-1964 in the native grasslands of Inner Mongolia. SOCD was determined in A horizon (eluvial horizon) of the soil. We selected the explanatory factors based on a random forest method, and explored the relationships between SOCD change and each of the explanatory factors using a linear mixed model. Our results indicated that the change in SOCD varied from the east to the west of Inner Mongolia, and SOCD was 18% lower in the 2010s than in the 1960s. The lower SOCD in the 2010s may primarily be attributed to the increasing in mean annual water surface evaporation, which explained approximately 10% and 50% of the total variation and explainable variation in the change in SOCD, respectively. The sand content of the soil is also a significant explanatory factor for the decrease in SOCD, which explained about 4% and 21% of the total variation and explainable variation in the change in SOCD, respectively. Furthermore, the collection of quantitative information on grazing frequency and duration may also help to improve our understanding of the anthropogenic factors that govern the change in SOCD.

Variations of precipitation characteristics during the period 1960-2014 in the Source Region of the Yellow River, China
IQBAL Mudassar, Jun WEN, Shaoping WANG, Hui TIAN, ADNAN Muhammad
Journal of Arid Land. 2018, 10 (3): 388-401.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-018-0008-z
Abstract ( 474 )   HTML ( 13 )     PDF (527KB) ( 1162 )  

Precipitation, a natural feature of weather systems in the Earth, is vitally important for the environment of any region. Under global climate change condition, the characteristics of precipitation have changed as a consequence of enhanced global hydrological cycle. The source region of the Yellow River (SRYR), locating within the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, is sensitive to the global climate change due to its complex orography and fragile ecosystem. To understand the precipitation characteristics and its impacts on the environment in the region, we studied the characteristics of rainy days and precipitation amount of different precipitation classes, such as light (0-5 and 5-10 mm), moderate (10-15, 15-20 and 20-25 mm) and heavy (≥25 mm) rains by analyzing the precipitation data of typical meteorological stations in the SRYR during the period 1961-2014, as well as the trends of persistent rainfall events and drought events. Results showed that annual average precipitation in this area had a non-significant (P>0.05) increasing trend, and 82.5% of the precipitation occurred from May to September. Rainy days of the 0-5 mm precipitation class significantly decreased, whereas the rainy days of 5-10, 10-15, and 20-25 mm precipitation classes increased and that of ≥25 mm precipitation class decreased insignificantly. The persistent rainfall events of 1- or 2-day and more than 2-day showed an increasing trend, with the 1- or 2-day events being more frequent. Meanwhile, the number of short drought periods (≤10 days) increased while long drought periods (>10 days) decreased. Since the 0-5 mm precipitation class had a huge impact on the grasslands productivity; the 5-10, 10-15, and 20-25 mm precipitation classes had positive effects on vegetation which rely on the deep soil water through moving nutrients and water into the root zone of these vegetation or through the plant-microbe interactions; the ≥25 mm precipitation class contributed to the floods; and more persistent rainfall events and fewer long drought events inferred positive effects on agriculture. Thus, these results indicate grassland degradation, less risk of floods, and the upgrading impact of climate change on agriculture. This study may provide scientific knowledge for policymakers to sustain the eco-environmental resources in the SYSR.

Grazing exclusion-induced shifts, the relative importance of environmental filtering, biotic interactions and dispersal limitation in shaping desert steppe communities, northern China
Xing WANG, Naiping SONG, Xinguo YANG, Lei WANG, Lin CHEN
Journal of Arid Land. 2018, 10 (3): 402-415.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-018-0411-5
Abstract ( 433 )   HTML ( 9 )     PDF (400KB) ( 1353 )  

Grazing exclusion is one of the most efficient approaches to restore degraded grassland but may negatively affects the recovery of species diversity. Changes in plant species diversity should be a consequence of the ecological assembly process. Local community assembly is influenced by environmental filtering, biotic interactions, and dispersal. However, how these factors potentially contribute to changes to species diversity is poorly understood, especially in harsh environments. In this study, two management siteswithin a Stipabrevifloradesert steppe community (typical natural steppe)were selected in northern China. In one of the two management sites, grazing has been excluded since 2010 and in the other with open grazing by sheep. In August 2016, three plots were established and 100 sampling units were created within each plot in a 5 m×5 m area at the two management sites.To assess the effects of grazing exclusion on S. breviflorasteppe, we analyzed the vegetation biomass, species diversity, soil organic carbon, and soil particle size distribution using pairedT-tests. In addition, variation partitioning was applied to determine the relative importance of environmental filtering and dispersal limitation. Null mode analysis was used to quantify the influence of biotic interactions in conjunction with EcoSim niche overlap and co-occurrence values. Our results demonstrated that (1) species diversity significantly decreased and the main improvements in soil quality occurred in the topsoil 0-10 cm after the grazing exclusion; (2) environmental filtering was important for community assembly between grazed and fenced grassland and this appears particularly true for soil particle size distribution, which may be well correlated with soil hydrological processes; and (3) however, competitive exclusion may play a significant role within the exclusion. The multiple pathways of assembly may collectively determine negative effects on the restoration of species diversity. Therefore, designers should be aware of the risk of reducing grazing exclusion-induced species diversity and account for manipulating processes.This in turn will reduce dominant species and promote environmental heterogeneity to maximize species diversity in semi-arid regions.

Effects of ultraviolet (UV) radiation and litter layer thickness on litter decomposition of two tree species in a semi-arid site of Northeast China
Bing MAO, Lei ZHAO, Qiong ZHAO, Dehui ZENG
Journal of Arid Land. 2018, 10 (3): 416-428.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-018-0054-6
Abstract ( 410 )   HTML ( 8 )     PDF (316KB) ( 1236 )  

Forests and grasslands in arid and semi-arid regions receive high-intensity ultraviolet (UV) radiation year-round. However, how the UV radiation affects the litter decomposition on the forest floor remains unclear. Here, we conducted a field-based experiment in 2011 in the southeastern Horqin Sandy Land, Northeast China, to investigate the effects of UV radiation, litter layer thickness, and their interaction on the mass loss and chemical properties of decomposing litter from Xiaozhuan poplar (Populus × xiaozhuanica) and Mongolian pine (Pinus sylvestris var. mongolica) plantation trees. We found that UV radiation accelerated the decomposition rates of both the Xiaozhuan poplar litter and Mongolian pine litter. For both species, the thick-layered litter had a lower mass loss than the thin-layered litter. The interaction between UV radiation and litter layer thickness significantly affected the litter mass loss of both tree species. However, the effects of UV radiation on the chemical properties of decomposing litter differed between the two species, which may be attributed to the contrasting initial leaf litter chemical properties and morphology. UV radiation mostly had positive effects on the lignin concentration and lignin/N ratio of Xiaozhuan poplar litter, while it had negative effects on the N concentration of Mongolian pine litter. Moreover, litter layer thickness and its interaction with UV radiation showed mostly positive effects on the N concentration and lignin/N ratio of Xiaozhuan poplar litter and the ratios of C/N and lignin/N of Mongolian pine litter, and mostly negative effects on the C/N ratio of Xiaozhuan poplar litter and the N concentration of Mongolian pine litter. Together, these results reveal the important roles played by UV radiation and litter layer thickness in the process of litter decomposition in this semi-arid region, and highlight how changes in the litter layer thickness can exert strong influences on the photodegradation of litter in tree plantations.

Growth and sustainability of Suaeda salsa in the Lop Nur, China
Congjuan LI, Ran LIU, Shijie WANG, Yongqiang SUN, Shengyu LI, Heng ZHANG, Jie GAO, Yanxi DANG, Lili ZHANG
Journal of Arid Land. 2018, 10 (3): 429-440.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-018-0002-5
Abstract ( 503 )   HTML ( 8 )     PDF (448KB) ( 963 )  

Extremely saline soils are very harsh environments for the growth and survival of most plant species, however, halophytes can grow well. The underlying mechanism of halophyte to resist high saline is not well understood by us. This study was conducted at the potash mine near the Lop Nur, China, where the effects of the halophyte Suaeda salsa L. on the saline-alkaline soils and its growth and sustainability were investigated. Four plots (in which the salt encrustation layers were removed), with different soil treatments were evaluated: (1) undisturbed soil, with no additional treatment (T1); (2) the slag soil zone, in which a 40-cm layer of slag was placed on the undisturbed soil surface (T2); (3) slag+sandy soil, in which a 20-cm layer of slag was placed in the lower layer and 20 cm of sandy soil, taken from an area about 70 km away from Lop Nur potash mine, where Tamarix species were growing, was placed in the upper layer (T3); and (4) a 40-cm sandy soil layer taken from the area where Tamarix species were growing was placed on undisturbed soil (T4). Soil nutrient contents increased in the four treatments, but salt content only decreased in the T1 treatment. Salt content in the T4 treatment increased over the two-year period, which may be partly attributed to salt deposition from wind-blown dust within the mine and salt accumulation within the surface soil (0-20 cm) in response to high evaporative demands. The S. salsa plants exhibited greater improvements in growth under the T4 treatment than under the T1, T2, and T3 treatments, which demonstrated that low levels of salinity are beneficial for the growth of this species. The T1 treatment was sustainable because of its low cost and superior soil improvement characteristics. Therefore, S. salsa plants not only reduced soil salinity and increased soil nutrient levels, but also ameliorated the plant growth environment, which would be beneficial for both the ecological restoration of the Lop Nur area and similar areas throughout the world.

Effect of water deficiency on relationships between metabolism, physiology, biomass, and yield of upland cotton (Gossypium hirsutum L.)
A BOZOROV Tohir, M USMANOV Rustam, Honglan YANG, A HAMDULLAEV Shukhrat, MUSAYEV Sardorbek, SHAVKIEV Jaloliddin, NABIEV Saidgani, Daoyuan ZHANG, A ABDULLAEV Alisher
Journal of Arid Land. 2018, 10 (3): 441-456.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-018-0009-y
Abstract ( 537 )   HTML ( 9 )     PDF (410KB) ( 1044 )  

Drought is a common abiotic stress that considerably limits crop production. The objective of this study is to explore the influence of water deficiency on the yield, physiologic and metabolomic attributes in upland cotton cultivars (Gossypium hirsutum L). Cotton cultivars, 'Ishonch' and 'Tashkent-6' were selected to study the relationships among their physiologic, metabolomic and yield attributes during water deficiency. Deficit irrigation was designed by modifying the traditional watering protocol to reduce water use. Results indicate that cotton cultivars respond differently to water deficit stress. Water deficit significantly influenced plant height, the number of internodes, and sympodial branches in both cultivars. However, yield components such as the number of bolls, boll seed, lint mass, and individual plant yield were significantly reduced only in 'Tashkent-6'. The leaf area decreased and the specific leaf weight increased in 'Ishonch' under deficit irrigation conditions. However, 'Tashkent-6' demonstrated significant water loss compared to 'Ishonch', and both cultivars showed reduced transpiration rates. Untargeted metabolite profiles of leaves showed clear separation in 'Ishonch', but not in 'Tashkent-6' under deficit irrigation compared to full irrigation. The individual metabolites such as proline and galactinol showed strong association with yield under water deficit stress. Moreover, this study indicates that leaf area and transpiration intensity influence yield during water deficiency. In summary, the correlation among morpho-physiologic, metabolic, and yield components significantly varied between the two cultivars under water deficiency. The flowering stage was sensitive to water stress for both cultivars. The direct relationship between physiology, metabolism, and yield may be a useful selection criterion for determining candidate parents for cotton drought tolerance breeding.

Simulating long-term effect of Hyrcanian forest loss on phosphorus loading at the sub-watershed level
RAJAEI Fatemeh, E SARI Abbas, SALMANMAHINY Abdolrassoul, O RANDHIR Timothy, DELAVAR Majid, D BEHROOZ Reza, M BAVANI Alireza
Journal of Arid Land. 2018, 10 (3): 457-469.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-018-0012-3
Abstract ( 345 )   HTML ( 8 )     PDF (377KB) ( 1150 )  

Conversion of forest land to farmland in the Hyrcanian forest of northern Iran increases the nutrient input, especially the phosphorus (P) nutrient, thus impacting the water quality. Modeling the effect of forest loss on surface water quality provides valuable information for forest management. This study predicts the future impacts of forest loss between 2010 and 2040 on P loading in the Tajan River watershed at the sub-watershed level. To understand drivers of the land cover, we used Land Change Modeler (LCM) combining with the Soil Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) model to simulate the impacts of land use change on P loading. We characterized priority management areas for locating comprehensive and cost-effective management practices at the sub-watershed level. Results show that agricultural expansion has led to an intense deforestation. During the future period 2010-2040, forest area is expected to decrease by 34,739 hm2. And the areas of pasture and agriculture are expected to increase by 7668 and 27,071 hm2, respectively. In most sub-watersheds, P pollution will be intensified with the increase in deforestation by the year 2040. And the P concentration is expected to increase from 0.08 to 2.30 mg/L in all of sub-watersheds by the year 2040. It should be noted that the phosphorous concentration exceeds the American Public Health Association′s water quality standard of 0.2 mg/L for P in drinking water in both current and future scenarios in the Tajan River watershed. Only 30% of sub-watersheds will comply with the water quality standards by the year 2040. The finding of the present study highlights the importance of conserving forest area to maintain a stable water quality.

Hourly and monthly variations in the surface activity patterns of Hemilepistus reaumurii in arid environments of Tunisia
Journal of Arid Land. 2018, 10 (3): 470-481.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-018-0058-2
Abstract ( 410 )   HTML ( 9 )     PDF (465KB) ( 1134 )  

Life in desert ecosystems drives animals to adapt their surface locomotor activity according to environmental conditions. In this study, the hourly and monthly variations in the surface activity patterns of the terrestrial crustacean Hemilepistus reaumurii were investigated. The surface activity of H. reaumurii at the population scale was observed by collecting the hourly active individuals from the sunrise to the sunset of the studied day in each month of 2013 in the Bchachma locality, Tunisia. The collected active individuals were put in perspex boxes (on which we labeled the hourly time interval in which the individuals were collected) in the field and then transported to the laboratory for analysis. Individuals were counted, sexed, and measured in the laboratory. Despite desert conditions in the studied site, H. reaumurii was characterized by a diurnal surface activity, showing a bimodal pattern during the warm months (i.e., May to October). However, it exhibited a unimodal surface activity pattern in the cold months (i.e., February, March, and November). The surface activity was significantly correlated with sunrise and sunset. Moreover, a significant quadratic effect of temperature on the surface activity of H. reaumurii was observed. Furthermore, the study showed that the most important surface activity was recorded in March. The daily exploitation of the temporal niches was significantly different as a function of months. The body size of males was larger than that of females, and the body size of active individuals changed with months. All these behavioural changes in the surface activity represent an adaptive strategy of life in the arid environment.

Diet characteristics of wild sheep (Ovis ammon darwini) in the Mengluoke Mountains, Xinjiang, China
Bang LI, Wenxuan XU, A BLANK David, Muyang WANG, Weikang YANG
Journal of Arid Land. 2018, 10 (3): 482-491.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-018-0010-5
Abstract ( 363 )   HTML ( 10 )     PDF (340KB) ( 895 )  

In most arid and semi-arid regions of the world, domestic livestock and native wildlife share pastures, and their competition for forage and habitat is thought to be a serious conservation issue. Moreover, unmanaged grazing by livestock can cause the population decline in wild ungulates. The diet of an animal species is a determining aspect of its ecological niche, and investigating its diet has been one of the initial steps in basic ecology study of a new species. To get an approximate understanding of the interspeci?c food relationships of argali (Ovis ammon darwini) between sexes, and sympatric domestic sheep and goats, we compared the diet compositions and diet-overlaps among these herbivores, i.e., male argali, female argali, domestic sheep, and domestic goats in the Mengluoke Mountains of Xinjiang, China by using micro-histological fecal analysis. Female argali, male argali, domestic sheep and domestic goat primarily consumed forbs (43.31%±4.86%), grass (36.02%±9.32%), forbs (41.01%±9.18%), and forbs (36.22%±10.61%), respectively in warm season. All these animals consumed mostly shrubs (female argali: 36.47%±7.56%; male argali: 47.28%±10.75%; domestic sheep: 40.46%±9.56%; and domestic goats: 42.88%±9.34%, respectively) in cold season. The diet-overlaps were relatively high among all species in cold season with values ranging from 0.88 to 0.94. Furthermore, Schoener’s index measured between each possible pair of 4 herbivores increased from the warm season to the cold season. The results illustrate that the high degree of diet-overlap of argali and domestic livestock (sheep and goat) may pose a threat to the survival of the argali in cold season. From the viewpoint of rangeland management and conservation of the endangered argali, the numbers of domestic sheep and goats should be limited in cold season to reduce food competition.