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31 August 2023, Volume 15 Issue 8 Previous Issue    Next Issue
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Research article
Dividing the transit wind speeds into intervals as a favorable methodology for analyzing the relationship between wind speed and the aerodynamic impedance of vegetation in semiarid grasslands
LI Ruishen, PEI Haifeng, ZHANG Shengwei, LI Fengming, LIN Xi, WANG Shuai, YANG Lin
Journal of Arid Land. 2023, 15 (8): 887-900.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-023-0102-8
Abstract ( 46 )   HTML ( 589 )     PDF (2378KB) ( 348 )  

In grassland ecosystems, the aerodynamic roughness (Z0) and frictional wind speed (u*) contribute to the aerodynamic impedance of the grassland canopy. Thus, they are often used in the studies of wind erosion and evapotranspiration. However, the effect of wind speed and grazing measures on the aerodynamic impedance of the grassland canopy has received less analysis. In this study, we monitored wind speeds at multiple heights in grazed and grazing-prohibited grasslands for 1 month in 2021, determined the transit wind speed at 2.0 m height by comparing wind speed differences at the same height in both grasslands, and divided these transit wind speeds at intervals of 2.0 m/s to analyze the effect of the transit wind speed on the relationship among Z0, u*, and wind speed within the grassland canopy. The results showed that dividing the transit wind speeds into intervals has a positive effect on the logarithmic fit of the wind speed profile. After dividing the transit wind speeds into intervals, the wind speed at 0.1 m height (V0.1) gradually decreased with the increase of Z0, exhibiting three distinct stages: a sharp change zone, a steady change zone, and a flat zone; while the overall trend of u* increased first and then decreased with the increase of V0.1. Dividing the transit wind speeds into intervals improved the fitting relationship between Z0 and V0.1 and changed their fitting functions in grazed and grazing-prohibited grasslands. According to the computational fluid dynamic results, we found that the number of tall-stature plants has a more significant effect on windproof capacity than their height. The results of this study contribute to a better understanding of the relationship between wind speed and the aerodynamic impedance of vegetation in grassland environments.

Characteristics of snow cover distribution along railway subgrade and the protective effect of snow fences
LEI Jia, CHENG Jianjun, GAO Li, MA Benteng, AN Yuanfeng, DONG Hongguang
Journal of Arid Land. 2023, 15 (8): 901-919.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-023-0105-5
Abstract ( 44 )   HTML ( 548 )     PDF (2863KB) ( 177 )  

Railways built in cold, snowy, and lightly populated areas are subjected to wind and snow disasters. In this study, we selected a snow hazard prevention and control section of the Altay-Zhundong Railway in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region of China as the research object. We investigated the deposited snowfall variation characteristics on the two sides and in the embankment pavement area of snow fences with different porosities, fence heights, and arrangement distances using single-factor tests and orthogonal tests based on global atmospheric reanalysis climate data, field survey data, and a multi-phase flow analysis model. The results showed significant differences in the characteristics of snow cover distribution and snow cover thickness between the embankment and the cutting in the absence of snow protection measures. The maximum snow cover thickness of the embankment pavement decreased by 12.6% relative to the cutting pavement. The snow cover thickness of the embankment exhibited an increasing trend from windward shoulder to leeward shoulder, whereas the snow cover thickness of the cutting presented a declining trend from windward shoulder to leeward toe. In the collaborative prevention and control of snow fences and embankments, the three factors can be ranked in terms of their sensitivity to deposited snowfall within the influence scope of snow fences as follows: fence height>arrangement distance>porosity. At the same time, fence height yielded a significant relationship for the influence scope of snow fences (P<0.05). The three factors can also be ranked in terms of their sensitivity to deposited snowfall on the pavement as follows: porosity>fence height>arrangement distance. For the embankment protection of the Altay-Zhundong Railway against wind and snow, snow fence with a porosity of 75%, a fence height of 4.8 m, and an arrangement distance from the embankment of 60 m produced the best snow control effect. By revealing the characteristics of snow cover distribution along railway subgrade and the protective effect of snow fences, this study provides valuable references for the engineering applications of railway construction in areas prone to wind and snow disasters.

Research article
Spatiotemporal variations in ecological quality of Otindag Sandy Land based on a new modified remote sensing ecological index
ZHAO Xiaohan, HAN Dianchen, LU Qi, LI Yunpeng, ZHANG Fangmin
Journal of Arid Land. 2023, 15 (8): 920-939.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-023-0065-9
Abstract ( 47 )   HTML ( 7 )     PDF (3224KB) ( 197 )  

Otindag Sandy Land in China is an important ecological barrier to Beijing; the changes in its ecological quality are major concerns for sustainable development and planning of this area. Based on principal component analysis and path analysis, we first generated a modified remote sensing ecological index (MRSEI) coupled with satellite and ground observational data during 2001-2020 that integrated four local indicators (greenness, wetness, and heatness that reflect vegetation status, water, and heat conditions, respectively, as well as soil erosion). Then, we assessed the ecological quality in Otindag Sandy Land during 2001-2020 based on the MRSEI at different time scales (i.e., the whole year, growing season, and non-growing season). MRSEI generally increased with an upward rate of 0.006/a during 2001-2020, with clear seasonal and spatial variations. Ecological quality was significantly improved in most regions of Otindag Sandy Land but degraded in the southern part. Regions with ecological degradation expanded to 18.64% of the total area in the non-growing season. The area with the worst grade of MRSEI shrunk by 15.83% of the total area from 2001 to 2020, while the area with the best grade of MRSEI increased by 9.77% of the total area. The temporal heterogeneity of ecological conditions indicated that the improvement process of ecological quality in the growing season may be interrupted or deteriorated in the following non-growing season. The implementation of ecological restoration measures in Otindag Sandy Land should not ignore the seasonal characteristics and spatial heterogeneity of local ecological quality. The results can explore the effectiveness of ecological restoration and provide scientific guides on sustainable development measures for drylands.

Long-term light grazing does not change soil organic carbon stability and stock in biocrust layer in the hilly regions of drylands
MA Xinxin, ZHAO Yunge, YANG Kai, MING Jiao, QIAO Yu, XU Mingxiang, PAN Xinghui
Journal of Arid Land. 2023, 15 (8): 940-959.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-023-0064-x
Abstract ( 41 )   HTML ( 4 )     PDF (2465KB) ( 300 )  

Livestock grazing is the most extensive land use in global drylands and one of the most extensive stressors of biological soil crusts (biocrusts). Despite widespread concern about the importance of biocrusts for global carbon (C) cycling, little is known about whether and how long-term grazing alters soil organic carbon (SOC) stability and stock in the biocrust layer. To assess the responses of SOC stability and stock in the biocrust layer to grazing, from June to September 2020, we carried out a large scale field survey in the restored grasslands under long-term grazing with different grazing intensities (represented by the number of goat dung per square meter) and in the grasslands strictly excluded from grazing in four regions (Dingbian County, Shenmu City, Guyuan City and Ansai District) along precipitation gradient in the hilly Loess Plateau, China. In total, 51 representative grassland sites were identified as the study sampling sites in this study, including 11 sites in Guyuan City, 16 sites in Dingbian County, 15 sites in Shenmu City and 9 sites in Ansai District. Combined with extensive laboratory analysis and statistical analysis, at each sampling site, we obtained data on biocrust attributes (cover, community structure, biomass and thickness), soil physical-chemical properties (soil porosity and soil carbon-to-nitrogen ratio (C/N ratio)), and environmental factors (mean annual precipitation, mean annual temperature, altitude, plant cover, litter cover, soil particle-size distribution (the ratio of soil clay and silt content to sand content)), SOC stability index (SI) and SOC stock (SOCS) in the biocrust layer, to conduct this study. Our results revealed that grazing did not change total biocrust cover but markedly altered biocrust community structure by reducing plant cover, with a considerable increase in the relative cover of cyanobacteria (23.1%) while a decrease in the relative cover of mosses (42.2%). Soil porosity and soil C/N ratio in the biocrust layer under grazing decreased significantly by 4.1%-7.2% and 7.2%-13.3%, respectively, compared with those under grazing exclusion. The shifted biocrust community structure ultimately resulted in an average reduction of 15.5% in SOCS in the biocrust layer under grazing. However, compared with higher grazing (intensity of more than 10.00 goat dung/m2), light grazing (intensity of 0.00-10.00 goat dung/m2 or approximately 1.20-2.60 goat/(hm2·a)) had no adverse effect on SOCS. SOC stability in the biocrust layer remained unchanged under long-term grazing due to the offset between the positive effect of the decreased soil porosity and the negative effect of the decreased soil C/N ratio on the SOC resistance to decomposition. Mean annual precipitation and soil particle-size distribution also regulated SOC stability indirectly by influencing soil porosity through plant cover and biocrust community structure. These findings suggest that proper grazing might not increase the CO2 release potential or adversely affect SOCS in the biocrust layer. This research provides some guidance for proper grazing management in the sustainable utilization of grassland resources and C sequestration in biocrusts in the hilly regions of drylands.

Research article
Effects of nitrogen and phosphorus additions on soil microbial community structure and ecological processes in the farmland of Chinese Loess Plateau
KOU Zhaoyang, LI Chunyue, CHANG Shun, MIAO Yu, ZHANG Wenting, LI Qianxue, DANG Tinghui, WANG Yi
Journal of Arid Land. 2023, 15 (8): 960-974.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-023-0023-6
Abstract ( 46 )   HTML ( 6 )     PDF (756KB) ( 351 )  

Microorganisms regulate the responses of terrestrial ecosystems to anthropogenic nutrient inputs. The escalation of anthropogenic activities has resulted in a rise in the primary terrestrial constraining elements, namely nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P). Nevertheless, the specific mechanisms governing the influence of soil microbial community structure and ecological processes in ecologically vulnerable and delicate semi-arid loess agroecosystems remain inadequately understood. Therefore, we explored the effects of different N and P additions on soil microbial community structure and its associated ecological processes in the farmland of Chinese Loess Plateau based on a 36-a long-term experiment. Nine fertilization treatments with complete interactions of high, medium, and low N and P gradients were set up. Soil physical and chemical properties, along with the microbial community structure were measured in this study. Additionally, relevant ecological processes such as microbial biomass, respiration, N mineralization, and enzyme activity were quantified. To elucidate the relationships between these variables, we examined correlation-mediated processes using statistical techniques, including redundancy analysis (RDA) and structural equation modeling (SEM). The results showed that the addition of N alone had a detrimental effect on soil microbial biomass, mineralized N accumulation, and β-1,4-glucosidase activity. Conversely, the addition of P exhibited an opposing effect, leading to positive influences on these soil parameters. The interactive addition of N and P significantly changed the microbial community structure, increasing microbial activity (microbial biomass and soil respiration), but decreasing the accumulation of mineralized N. Among them, N24P12 treatment showed the greatest increase in the soil nutrient content and respiration. N12P12 treatment increased the overall enzyme activity and total phospholipid fatty acid (PLFA) content by 70.93%. N and P nutrient contents of the soil dominate the microbial community structure and the corresponding changes in hydrolytic enzymes. Soil microbial biomass, respiration, and overall enzyme activity are driven by mineralized N. Our study provides a theoretical basis for exploring energy conversion processes of soil microbial community and environmental sustainability under long-term N and P additions in semi-arid loess areas.

Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi improve biomass, photosynthesis, and water use efficiency of Opuntia ficus-indica (L.) Miller under different water levels
Teame G KEBEDE, Emiru BIRHANE, Kiros-Meles AYIMUT, Yemane G EGZIABHER
Journal of Arid Land. 2023, 15 (8): 975-988.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-023-0022-7
Abstract ( 68 )   HTML ( 7 )     PDF (901KB) ( 417 )  

Opuntia ficus-indica (L.) Miller is a CAM (crassulacean acid metabolism) plant with an extraordinary capacity to adapt to drought stress by its ability to fix atmospheric CO2 at nighttime, store a significant amount of water in cladodes, and reduce root growth. Plants that grow in moisture-stress conditions with thick and less fine root hairs have a strong symbiosis with arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) to adapt to drought stress. Water stress can limit plant growth and biomass production, which can be rehabilitated by AMF association through improved physiological performance. The objective of this study was to investigate the effects of AMF inoculations and variable soil water levels on the biomass, photosynthesis, and water use efficiency of the spiny and spineless O. ficus-indica. The experiment was conducted in a greenhouse with a full factorial experiment using O. ficus-indica type (spiny or spineless), AMF (presence or absence), and four soil water available (SWA) treatments through seven replications. Water treatments applied were 0%-25% SWA (T1), 25%-50% SWA (T2), 50%-75% SWA (T3), and 75%-100% SWA (T4). Drought stress reduced biomass and cladode growth, while AMF colonization significantly increased the biomass production with significant changes in the physiological performance of O. ficus-indica. AMF presence significantly increased biomass of both O. ficus-indica plant types through improved growth, photosynthetic water use efficiency, and photosynthesis. The presence of spines on the surface of cladodes significantly reduced the rate of photosynthesis and photosynthetic water use efficiency. Net photosynthesis, photosynthetic water use efficiency, transpiration, and stomatal conductance rate significantly decreased with increased drought stress. Under drought stress, some planted mother cladodes with the absence of AMF have not established daughter cladodes, whereas AMF-inoculated mother cladodes fully established daughter cladodes. AMF root colonization significantly increased with the decrease of SWA. AMF caused an increase in biomass production, increased tolerance to drought stress, and improved photosynthesis and water use efficiency performance of O. ficus-indica. The potential of O. ficus-indica to adapt to drought stress is controlled by the morpho-physiological performance related to AMF association.

Saxicolous lichen communities in three basins associated with mining activity in northwestern Argentina
Juan M HERNÁNDEZ, Renato A GARCÍA, Edith R FILIPPINI, Cecilia ESTRABOU, Martha S CAÑAS, Juan M RODRÍGUEZ
Journal of Arid Land. 2023, 15 (8): 989-1005.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-023-0024-5
Abstract ( 58 )   HTML ( 6 )     PDF (1362KB) ( 101 )  

Mining activity affects the vegetation and soils of the ecosystems. However, the effects of mining activity on saxicolous lichen communities are less concerned. Thus, the aim of this study was to characterize saxicolous lichen communities in three basins (Vis-Vis River basin, Poteros River basin, and Capillitas River basin) surrounding metalliferous mining projects of different types of operation and at different stages of exploitation. A large-scale mine (Bajo de la Alumbrera) with more than 25 a of open-pit mining located in the Vis-Vis River basin (CRV). A pre-exploitation mine (Agua Rica) located in the Poteros River basin (CRP), and a small-scale mine (Minas Capillitas) with more than 160 a of underground mining located in the Capillitas River basin (CAC). In each basin, species richness, cover, and frequency of lichen communities were measured on 40 rock outcrops. Also, explanatory variables were recorded, i.e., altitude, slope, aspect, vegetation cover, rock, and soil cover around the rocky area sampled. Richness and total cover of lichen communities were analysed using linear models, and species composition was explored using multivariate ordination analysis. Results showed that a total of 118 lichen species were identified. The species richness differed among basins and the lichen composition present in areas close to mining sites responded mainly to basins, altitude, and microsite variables. The lichen cover showed no difference among basins, but it changed under different rock and vegetation cover. It was not possible to quantify the effects of mining activity on species richness and composition. However, the low richness values found in the downstream of Minera Alumbrera could be associated with the negative impact of open-pit mining. Moreover, the effects of large-scale mining activity on lichen communities needs more investigation.