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30 August 2022, Volume 14 Issue 8 Previous Issue    Next Issue
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Review article
Formation mechanisms and remediation techniques for low-efficiency artificial shelter forests on the Chinese Loess Plateau
WANG Yaobin, SHANGGUAN Zhouping
Journal of Arid Land. 2022, 14 (8): 837-848.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-022-0069-x
Abstract ( 42 )   HTML ( 9 )     PDF (823KB) ( 74 )  

The construction of artificial shelter forests (ASFs) has resulted in substantial ecological, economic, and societal benefits to the Chinese Loess Plateau (CLP). However, the health and benefits of ASFs are being increasingly threatened by the formation of low-efficiency artificial shelter forests (LEASFs). In this study, LEASFs are systematically analyzed in terms of their status, formation mechanisms, and developmental obstacles. The key restoration techniques and schemes were summarized to improve the quality and efficiency of LEASFs. LEASFs are formed by relatively complex mechanisms, but they arise mainly due to poor habitat conditions, improper tree species selections, mismatch between stands and habitat, extensive forest management measures, and human interferences. The restoration and improvement of LEASFs are hindered by water deficits, mismatch between stands and habitat, single management purpose, and low efficiency. LEASFs are becoming more complex due to their wide range, the challenges associated with their restoration, and insufficient technological measures for their restoration. The key techniques of the quality and efficiency improvement of LEASFs include basic forest tending methods, near-natural restoration, multifunction-oriented improvement, and systematic restoration. An understanding on the formation mechanisms of LEASFs and a scientific approach toward their restoration are urgently needed and critical for the ecological protection and high-quality development of LEASFs on the CLP. Based on these analyses, we recommend strengthening the monitoring and supervision of LEASFs, considering the bearing capacity of regional water resources, implementing multiple restoration techniques, promoting multifunction-oriented ecological development, and exploring new management concepts to achieve the sustainable development of ASFs on the CLP.

Research article
Monitoring rock desert formation caused by two different origins (ice-snow melting and drying) in the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau of China by considering topographic and meteorological elements
JIA Wei, SHI Peijun, WANG Jing'ai, MA Weidong, XIA Xingsheng, ZHOU Yuantao
Journal of Arid Land. 2022, 14 (8): 849-866.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-022-0100-2
Abstract ( 43 )   HTML ( 5 )     PDF (2313KB) ( 45 )  

Monitoring rock desert formation caused by two different origins (ice-snow melting and drying) through remote sensing is crucial to our understanding of the interaction between the underlying surface of different rock desert and land-atmosphere types, as well as the relationship between bare land and soil erosion. A number of achievements have been made in remote sensing monitoring of desert areas, but there is a lack of accurate classification and remote sensing identification of rock desert types based on formation mechanism. In this study, the north and south sides of the eastern Kunlun Mountains in the northern part of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau of China were taken as the study areas. Landsat operational landscape imager, digital elevation model, and precipitation and temperature grid data were used as data sources. By identifying the bare areas based on the normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI), we used the multi-element fusion method of contours, isotherms, and isohyets to identify the rock desert types in the ice-snow melting and dry areas. The results showed that: (1) the rock desert areas identified by remote sensing based on topographic and meteorological elements were highly accurate, with an overall accuracy of 88.45% and kappa coefficient of 0.77. The multi-element fusion method of contours, isotherms, and isohyets could effectively identify the rock desert types in the ice-snow melting and dry areas; (2) the optimal segmentation range of the ice-snow melting and dry areas was 3600 m contour, -2°C-2°C isotherms, and 100-130 mm isohyets. The areas with elevation less than 3600 m, annual average temperature higher than 2°C, and average annual precipitation less than 100 mm were rock desert in the dry areas. The range of -2°C-2°C isotherms and 100-130 mm isohyets was the transition area between the ice-snow melting and dry areas. The areas with elevation higher than 3600 m, annual average temperature less than -2°C, and average annual precipitation higher than 130 mm were rock desert in the ice-snow melting areas; and (3) the identification accuracy of the bare areas based on the NDVI method was better, specifically, the identification accuracy of plain bare areas was generally better than that of mountain bare areas. The remote sensing identification method considers not only the topographic factors that have great influence on the spatial distribution of the two types of rock desert areas, but also the meteorological factors, which can provide a scientific reference for the effective identification of the two types of rock desert areas.

Grazing and heat stress protection of native grass by a sand-fixing shrub in the arid lands of northern China
Keiichi KIMURA, Akito KONO, Susumu YAMADA, Tomoyo F KOYANAGI, Toshiya OKURO
Journal of Arid Land. 2022, 14 (8): 867-876.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-022-0024-x
Abstract ( 48 )   HTML ( 5 )     PDF (689KB) ( 36 )  

Shrub species are used in restoration projects on dryland for their facilitation effects, which include environmental improvements and protection from herbivore feeding. Facilitation effects on forage grasses are potentially important in improving grazing capacity on rangelands. However, the morphology-dependent performance of benefactor plants in facilitating forage species growth and supplementation under moderate grazing intensity remains unclear. Here, our main purpose was to measure facilitation performance in terms of the survival of a native forage grass, Agropyron cristatum (L.) Gaertn. (Gramineae)., in accordance with the growth conditions of a sand-fixing benefactor shrub, Caragana microphylla Lam., in the Hulun Buir Grassland, northern China. Six study sites with patches of A. cristatum and C. microphylla were established at the foot of fixed sand dunes. At each site, five quadrats were set in places where C. microphylla coverage was 100% and A. cristatum grew among the shrubs (shrub quadrats), and another five were set where A. cristatum grew alone without C. microphylla (grass quadrats). We measured the morphological traits of C. microphylla and A. cristatum in all 60 quadrats, along with the soil water content and soil temperature. The data were compared between the shrub and grass quadrats by generalized linear mixed-effect models to assess the shrub's facilitation effects. We also used such models to elucidate the relationship between the average height of C. microphylla and the morphological traits of A. cristatum in the shrub quadrats. The maximum height, average grazed height, and the number of seed heads of A. cristatum were greater in the shrub quadrats than in the grass quadrats. The soil surface temperature was lower in the shrub quadrats. The maximum height and seed head number of A. cristatum were positively associated with the average height of C. microphylla. These results suggest that the grazing impact and heat stress were smaller in shrub quadrats than in grass quadrats, and that the degree of this protective effect depended on the shrub height. The shrub canopy seemed to reduce the increase in soil temperature and keep the grass vigorous. Livestock likely avoided grazing grasses in the C. microphylla patches because of the shrub's spiny leaves; only the upper parts of the grass stems (including the seed heads) protruding from the shrub canopy were grazed. The sand-fixing shrub thus moderates the grazing impact and soil temperature, and contributes to vegetation restoration and grazing system sustainability.

Wind-proof and sand-fixing effects of Artemisia ordosica with different coverages in the Mu Us Sandy Land, northern China
PANG Yingjun, WU Bo, JIA Xiaohong, XIE Shengbo
Journal of Arid Land. 2022, 14 (8): 877-893.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-022-0070-4
Abstract ( 35 )   HTML ( 4 )     PDF (1528KB) ( 53 )  

Wind erosion is a key global environmental problem and has many adverse effects. The Mu Us Sandy Land of northern China is characterized by an arid climate, where vegetation patches and bare sand patches are usually distributed mosaically, and aeolian activities occur frequently. Vegetation plays a significant role in controlling wind erosion. Artemisia ordosica is the most dominant native plant species in the Mu Us Sandy Land. It is urgent to study the wind-proof and sand-fixing effects of Artemisia ordosica in the Mu Us Sandy Land. This study analyzed the wind-proof and sand-fixing effects of Artemisia ordosica based on the field data of wind regimes, aeolian sediment transport, and surface change of Artemisia ordosica plots with four coverages (denoted as site A, site B, site C, and site D) in the Mu Us Sandy Land during the period from 1 June 2018 to 29 June 2019. The coverages of Artemisia ordosica at site A, site B, site C, and site D were 2%, 16%, 29%, and 69%, respectively. The annual average wind speeds at 2.0 m height above the ground for site A, site B, site C, and site D were 3.47, 2.77, 2.21, and 1.97 m/s, respectively. The annual drift potentials were 193.80, 69.72, 15.05, and 6.73 VU at site A, site B, site C, and site D, respectively. The total horizontal aeolian sediment fluxes during the period from 2-3 June 2018 to 6 June 2019 at site A, site B, site C, and site D were 4633.61, 896.80, 10.54, and 6.14 kg/m, respectively. Site A had the largest surface changes, and the surface changes at site B were significantly weaker than those at site A, whereas the surface changes at site C and site D were minimal. The results indicated that Artemisia ordosica significantly reduced the wind speed, drift potential, aeolian sediment transport, and surface changes. The higher the coverage of Artemisia ordosica is, the more obvious the effects of wind-proof and sand-fixing. Wind erosion would be effectively controlled in the Mu Us Sandy Land if the coverage of Artemisia ordosica is greater than 29%. These results provide a scientific basis for evaluating the ecosystem service function of Artemisia ordosica and the vegetation protection and construction projects in the Mu Us Sandy Land.

Effects of mulch and planting methods on Medicago ruthenica seed yield and soil physical-chemical properties
WANG Yuxia, ZHANG Jing, YU Xiaojun
Journal of Arid Land. 2022, 14 (8): 894-909.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-022-0026-8
Abstract ( 25 )   HTML ( 4 )     PDF (2972KB) ( 38 )  

Medicago ruthenica (L.) Trautv., a wild grass species, is commonly grown as a forage crop in arid and semi-arid areas of China. Herein, we explored mulch patterns and planting methods for optimizing M. ruthenica seed production in the loess plateau of the Gansu Province, China from 2017 to 2019. The experiments comprised of six treatments including (1) flat ground without mulch (F0, control); (2) flat ground with a transparent white 0.008 mm thick plastic film mulch (FP); (3) flat ground with 4500 kg/hm2 straw mulch (FS); (4) furrow with 10 cm ridges (R0); (5) furrow with plastic film mulch (RP); and (6) furrow with straw mulch (RS). Results showed that the harvested seed yield of M. ruthenica was the highest under RP treatment, followed by FP and FS treatments. Soil moisture content from mid-May to mid-August in 2017 was the highest under RP and FP treatments, followed by RS and FS treatments. In 2018, soil moisture content was the highest under RS and FS treatments. In 2017 and 2018, soil temperature was the highest under FP and RP treatments, followed by F0 and R0 treatments. Total and available nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium contents were the highest under RS and FS treatments, followed by RP and FP treatments. Comprehensive analysis result showed that surface mulch improved soil microenvironment and increased seed yield of M. ruthenica. Straw mulch also effectively recycled excess crop straw, thereby encouraging the sustainable development of agriculture in this area. In conclusion, FS treatment was considered the best mode for M. ruthenica seed production in this area.

Occurrence, sources, and relationships of soil microplastics with adsorbed heavy metals in the Ebinur Lake Basin, Northwest China
ZHANG Zhaoyong, GUO Jieyi, WANG Pengwei
Journal of Arid Land. 2022, 14 (8): 910-924.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-022-0025-9
Abstract ( 52 )   HTML ( 8 )     PDF (768KB) ( 41 )  

There is a lack of research on soil microplastics in arid oases considering the rapid economic development of northwestern China. Here, we studied the occurrence and sources of microplastics in soil, as well as the relationships between microplastics and adsorbed heavy metals in the Ebinur Lake Basin, a typical arid oasis in China. Results showed that (1) the average microplastic content in all soil samples was 36.15 (±3.27) mg/kg. The contents of microplastics at different sampling sites ranged from 3.89 (±1.64) to 89.25 (±2.98) mg/kg. Overall, the proportions of various microplastic shapes decreased in the following order: film (54.25%)>fiber (18.56%)>particle (15.07%)>fragment (8.66%)>foam (3.46%); (2) among all microplastic particles, white particles accounted for the largest proportion (52.93%), followed by green (24.15%), black (12.17%), transparent (7.16%), and yellow particles (3.59%). The proportions of microplastic particle size ranges across all soil samples decreased in the following order: 1000-2000 µm (40.88%)>500-1000 µm (26.75%)>2000-5000 µm (12.30%)>100-500 µm (12.92%)>0-100 µm (7.15%). FTIR (Fourier transform infrared) analyses showed that polyethylene terephthalate (PET), polypropylene (PP), polycarbonate (PC), polyethylene (PE), and polystyrene (PS) occurred in the studied soil; (3) random forest predictions showed that industrial and agricultural production activities and the discharge of domestic plastic waste were related to soil microplastic pollution, in which agricultural plastic film was the most important factor in soil pollution in the study area; and (4) seven heavy metals extracted from microplastics in the soil samples showed significant positive correlations with soil pH, EC, total salt, N, P, and K contents (P<0.01), indicating that these soil factors could significantly affect the contents of heavy metals carried by soil microplastics. This research demonstrated that the contents of soil microplastics are lower than other areas of the world, and they mainly come from industrial and agricultural activities of the Ebinur Lake Basin.

Evaluating the soil evaporation loss rate in a gravel-sand mulching environment based on stable isotopes data
YANG Ye, ZHANG Mingjun, ZHANG Yu, WANG Shengjie, WANG Jiaxin
Journal of Arid Land. 2022, 14 (8): 925-939.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-022-0101-1
Abstract ( 39 )   HTML ( 5 )     PDF (1464KB) ( 48 )  

In order to cope with drought and water shortages, the working people in the arid areas of Northwest China have developed a drought-resistant planting method, namely, gravel-sand mulching, after long-term agricultural practices. To understand the effects of gravel-sand mulching on soil water evaporation, we selected Baifeng peach (Amygdalus persica L.) orchards in Northwest China as the experimental field in 2021. Based on continuously collected soil water stable isotopes data, we evaluated the soil evaporation loss rate in a gravel-sand mulching environment using the line-conditioned excess (lc-excess) coupled Rayleigh fractionation model and Craig-Gordon model. The results show that the average soil water content in the plots with gravel-sand mulching is 1.86% higher than that without gravel-sand mulching. The monthly variation of the soil water content is smaller in the plots with gravel-sand mulching than that without gravel-sand mulching. Moreover, the average lc-excess value in the plots without gravel-sand mulching is smaller. In addition, the soil evaporation loss rate in the plots with gravel-sand mulching is lower than that in the plots without gravel-sand mulching. The lc-excess value was negative for both the plots with and without gravel-sand mulching, and it has good correlation with relative humidity, average temperature, input water content, and soil water content. The effect of gravel-sand mulching on soil evaporation is most prominent in August. Compared with the evaporation data of similar environments in the literature, the lc-excess coupled Rayleigh fractionation model is better. Stable isotopes evidence shows that gravel-sand mulching can effectively reduce soil water evaporation, which provides a theoretical basis for agricultural water management and optimization of water-saving methods in arid areas.