Influence of groundwater depth on species composition and community structure in the transition zone of Cele oasis
Journal of Arid Land. 2010, 2 (4): 235-242.
The paper analyzes the hypothesis that the distribution of dominant plant species and characteristics of plant communities are related to groundwater depth. The results showed that variations of groundwater depth impacted distributions and characteristics of dominant plant communities. However, besides groundwater depth, the community composition and species diversity were also influenced by physiognomy of the habitat. Based on the similarity coefficient, the differences between dominant plant communities were significant at different groundwater depths. Compared with other results relating to desert vegetation and groundwater depth, variations of community distribution were similar at the large spatial scale. However, in this extremely arid region, there were significant differences in community type and community succession when compared with other arid regions, especially in relationship to deep groundwater depth. With groundwater depth from deep to shallow, communities transformed with the sequence of Alhagi communities, Tamarix spp. communities, Populus communities, Phragmites communities, and Sophora communities. At groundwater depth of less than 6.0 m, the community type and composition changed, and the species diversity increased. Among these dominant species, Tamarix exhibited the biggest efficiency in resource utilization according to niche breadth, which means it possessed the best adaptability to environmental conditions at the oasis margins.