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31 January 2024, Volume 16 Issue 1 Previous Issue    Next Issue
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Research article
Parkland trees on smallholder farms ameliorate soil physical-chemical properties in the semi-arid area of Tigray, Ethiopia
Selam LJALEM, Emiru BIRHANE, Kassa TEKA, Daniel H BERHE
Journal of Arid Land. 2024, 16 (1): 1-13.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-024-0002-6
Abstract ( 63 )   HTML ( 6 )     PDF (583KB) ( 176 )  

Proposed agroforestry options should begin with the species that farmers are most familiar with, which would be the native multipurpose trees that have evolved under smallholder farms and socioeconomic conditions. The African birch (Anogeissus leiocarpa (DC.) Guill. & Perr.) and pink jacaranda (Stereospermum kunthianum Cham.) trees are the dominant species in the agroforestry parkland system in the drylands of Tigray, Ethiopia. Smallholder farmers highly value these trees for their multifunctional uses including timber, firewood, charcoal, medicine, etc. These trees also could improve soil fertility. However, the amount of soil physical and chemical properties enhanced by the two species must be determined to maintain the sustainable conservation of the species in the parklands and to scale up to similar agro- ecological systems. Hence, we selected twelve isolated trees, six from each species that had similar dendrometric characteristics and were growing in similar environmental conditions. We divided the canopy cover of each tree into three radial distances: mid-canopy, canopy edge, and canopy gap (control). At each distance, we took soil samples from three different depths. We collected 216 soil samples (half disturbed and the other half undisturbed) from each canopy position and soil depth. Bulk density (BD), soil moisture content (SMC), soil organic carbon (SOC), total nitrogen (TN), available phosphorus (AP), available potassium (AK), pH, electrical conductivity (EC), and cation exchange capacity (CEC) were analysed. Results revealed that soil physical and chemical properties significantly improved except for soil texture and EC under both species, CEC under A. leiocarpus, and soil pH under S. kunthianum, all the studied soils were improved under both species canopy as compared with canopy gap. SMC, TN, AP, and AK under canopy of these trees were respectively 24.1%, 11.1%, 55.0%, and 9.3% higher than those soils under control. The two parkland agroforestry species significantly enhanced soil fertility near the canopy of topsoil through improving soil physical and chemical properties. These two species were recommended in the drylands with similar agro-ecological systems.

Ecological effect of the plantation of Sabina vulgaris in the Mu Us Sandy Land, China
NAN Weige, DONG Zhibao, ZHOU Zhengchao, LI Qiang, CHEN Guoxiang
Journal of Arid Land. 2024, 16 (1): 14-28.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-024-0050-y
Abstract ( 29 )   HTML ( 8 )     PDF (1577KB) ( 116 )  

Vegetation restoration through artificial plantation is an effective method to combat desertification, especially in arid and semi-arid areas. This study aimed to explore the ecological effect of the plantation of Sabina vulgaris on soil physical and chemical properties on the southeastern fringe of the Mu Us Sandy Land, China. We collected soil samples from five depth layers (0-20, 20-40, 40-60, 60-80, and 80-100 cm) in the S. vulgaris plantation plots across four plantation ages (4, 7, 10, and 16 years) in November 2019, and assessed soil physical (soil bulk density, soil porosity, and soil particle size) and chemical (soil organic carbon (SOC), total nitrogen (TN), available nitrogen (AN), available phosphorus (AP), available potassium (AK), cation-exchange capacity (CEC), salinity, pH, and C/N ratio) properties. The results indicated that the soil predominantly consisted of sand particles (94.27%-99.67%), with the remainder being silt and clay. As plantation age increased, silt and very fine sand contents progressively rose. After 16 years of planting, there was a marked reduction in the mean soil particle size. The initial soil fertility was low and declined from 4 to 10 years of planting before witnessing an improvement. Significant positive correlations were observed for the clay, silt, and very fine sand (mean diameter of 0.000-0.100 mm) with SOC, AK, and pH. In contrast, fine sand and medium sand (mean diameter of 0.100-0.500 mm) showed significant negative correlations with these indicators. Our findings ascertain that the plantation of S. vulgaris requires 10 years to effectively act as a windbreak and contribute to sand fixation, and needs 16 years to improve soil physical and chemical properties. Importantly, these improvements were found to be highly beneficial for vegetation restoration in arid and semi-arid areas. This research can offer valuable insights for the protection and restoration of the vegetation ecosystem in the sandy lands in China.

Regulation effects of water and nitrogen on yield, water, and nitrogen use efficiency of wolfberry
GAO Yalin, QI Guangping, MA Yanlin, YIN Minhua, WANG Jinghai, WANG Chen, TIAN Rongrong, XIAO Feng, LU Qiang, WANG Jianjun
Journal of Arid Land. 2024, 16 (1): 29-45.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-024-0003-5
Abstract ( 32 )   HTML ( 5 )     PDF (1369KB) ( 136 )  

Wolfberry (Lycium barbarum L.) is important for health care and ecological protection. However, it faces problems of low productivity and resource utilization during planting. Exploring reasonable models for water and nitrogen management is important for solving these problems. Based on field trials in 2021 and 2022, this study analyzed the effects of controlling soil water and nitrogen application levels on wolfberry height, stem diameter, crown width, yield, and water (WUE) and nitrogen use efficiency (NUE). The upper and lower limits of soil water were controlled by the percentage of soil water content to field water capacity (θf), and four water levels, i.e., adequate irrigation (W0, 75%-85% θf), mild water deficit (W1, 65%-75% θf), moderate water deficit (W2, 55%-65% θf), and severe water deficit (W3, 45%-55% θf) were used, and three nitrogen application levels, i.e., no nitrogen (N0, 0 kg/hm2), low nitrogen (N1, 150 kg/hm2), medium nitrogen (N2, 300 kg/hm2), and high nitrogen (N3, 450 kg/hm2) were implied. The results showed that irrigation and nitrogen application significantly affected plant height, stem diameter, and crown width of wolfberry at different growth stages (P<0.01), and their maximum values were observed in W1N2, W0N2, and W1N3 treatments. Dry weight per plant and yield of wolfberry first increased and then decreased with increasing nitrogen application under the same water treatment. Dry weight per hundred grains and dry weight percentage increased with increasing nitrogen application under W0 treatment. However, under other water treatments, the values first increased and then decreased with increasing nitrogen application. Yield and its component of wolfberry first increased and then decreased as water deficit increased under the same nitrogen treatment. Irrigation water use efficiency (IWUE, 8.46 kg/(hm2·mm)), WUE (6.83 kg/(hm2·mm)), partial factor productivity of nitrogen (PFPN, 2.56 kg/kg), and NUE (14.29 kg/kg) reached their highest values in W2N2, W1N2, W1N2, and W1N1 treatments. Results of principal component analysis (PCA) showed that yield, WUE, and NUE were better in W1N2 treatment, making it a suitable water and nitrogen management mode for the irrigation area of the Yellow River in the Gansu Province, China and similar planting areas.

Spatiotemporal changes of gross primary productivity and its response to drought in the Mongolian Plateau under climate change
ZHAO Xuqin, LUO Min, MENG Fanhao, SA Chula, BAO Shanhu, BAO Yuhai
Journal of Arid Land. 2024, 16 (1): 46-70.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-024-0090-3
Abstract ( 36 )   HTML ( 7 )     PDF (5095KB) ( 103 )  

Gross primary productivity (GPP) of vegetation is an important constituent of the terrestrial carbon sinks and is significantly influenced by drought. Understanding the impact of droughts on different types of vegetation GPP provides insight into the spatiotemporal variation of terrestrial carbon sinks, aiding efforts to mitigate the detrimental effects of climate change. In this study, we utilized the precipitation and temperature data from the Climatic Research Unit, the standardized precipitation evapotranspiration index (SPEI), the standardized precipitation index (SPI), and the simulated vegetation GPP using the eddy covariance-light use efficiency (EC-LUE) model to analyze the spatiotemporal change of GPP and its response to different drought indices in the Mongolian Plateau during 1982-2018. The main findings indicated that vegetation GPP decreased in 50.53% of the plateau, mainly in its northern and northeastern parts, while it increased in the remaining 49.47% area. Specifically, meadow steppe (78.92%) and deciduous forest (79.46%) witnessed a significant decrease in vegetation GPP, while alpine steppe (75.08%), cropland (76.27%), and sandy vegetation (87.88%) recovered well. Warming aridification areas accounted for 71.39% of the affected areas, while 28.53% of the areas underwent severe aridification, mainly located in the south and central regions. Notably, the warming aridification areas of desert steppe (92.68%) and sandy vegetation (90.24%) were significant. Climate warming was found to amplify the sensitivity of coniferous forest, deciduous forest, meadow steppe, and alpine steppe GPP to drought. Additionally, the drought sensitivity of vegetation GPP in the Mongolian Plateau gradually decreased as altitude increased. The cumulative effect of drought on vegetation GPP persisted for 3.00-8.00 months. The findings of this study will improve the understanding of how drought influences vegetation in arid and semi-arid areas.

Land use change and its driving factors in the ecological function area: A case study in the Hedong Region of the Gansu Province, China
WEI Zhudeng, DU Na, YU Wenzheng
Journal of Arid Land. 2024, 16 (1): 71-90.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-024-0001-7
Abstract ( 36 )   HTML ( 7 )     PDF (3294KB) ( 49 )  

Land use and cover change (LUCC) is important for the provision of ecosystem services. An increasing number of recent studies link LUCC processes to ecosystem services and human well-being at different scales recently. However, the dynamic of land use and its drivers receive insufficient attention within ecological function areas, particularly in quantifying the dynamic roles of climate change and human activities on land use based on a long time series. This study utilizes geospatial analysis and geographical detectors to examine the temporal dynamics of land use patterns and their underlying drivers in the Hedong Region of the Gansu Province from 1990 to 2020. Results indicated that grassland, cropland, and forestland collectively accounted for approximately 99% of the total land area. Cropland initially increased and then decreased after 2000, while grassland decreased with fluctuations. In contrast, forestland and construction land were continuously expanded, with net growth areas of 6235.2 and 455.9 km2, respectively. From 1990 to 2020, cropland was converted to grassland, and both of them were converted to forestland as a whole. The expansion of construction land primarily originated from cropland. From 2000 to 2005, land use experienced intensified temporal dynamics and a shift of relatively active zones from the central to the southeastern region. Grain yield, economic factors, and precipitation were the major factors accounting for most land use changes. Climatic impacts on land use changes were stronger before 1995, succeeded by the impact of animal husbandry during 1995-2000, followed by the impacts of grain production and gross domestic product (GDP) after 2000. Moreover, agricultural and pastoral activities, coupled with climate change, exhibited stronger enhancement effects after 2000 through their interaction with population and economic factors. These patterns closely correlated with ecological restoration projects in China since 1999. This study implies the importance of synergy between human activity and climate change for optimizing land use via ecological patterns in the ecological function area.

Spatiotemporal characteristics and driving mechanisms of land use/land cover (LULC) changes in the Jinghe River Basin, China
WANG Yinping, JIANG Rengui, YANG Mingxiang, XIE Jiancang, ZHAO Yong, LI Fawen, LU Xixi
Journal of Arid Land. 2024, 16 (1): 91-109.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-024-0051-x
Abstract ( 31 )   HTML ( 8 )     PDF (2336KB) ( 112 )  

Understanding the trajectories and driving mechanisms behind land use/land cover (LULC) changes is essential for effective watershed planning and management. This study quantified the net change, exchange, total change, and transfer rate of LULC in the Jinghe River Basin (JRB), China using LULC data from 2000 to 2020. Through trajectory analysis, knowledge maps, chord diagrams, and standard deviation ellipse method, we examined the spatiotemporal characteristics of LULC changes. We further established an index system encompassing natural factors (digital elevation model (DEM), slope, aspect, and curvature), socio-economic factors (gross domestic product (GDP) and population), and accessibility factors (distance from railways, distance from highways, distance from water, and distance from residents) to investigate the driving mechanisms of LULC changes using factor detector and interaction detector in the geographical detector (Geodetector). The key findings indicate that from 2000 to 2020, the JRB experienced significant LULC changes, particularly for farmland, forest, and grassland. During the study period, LULC change trajectories were categorized into stable, early-stage, late-stage, repeated, and continuous change types. Besides the stable change type, the late-stage change type predominated the LULC change trajectories, comprising 83.31% of the total change area. The period 2010-2020 witnessed more active LULC changes compared to the period 2000-2010. The LULC changes exhibited a discrete spatial expansion trend during 2000-2020, predominantly extending from southeast to northwest of the JRB. Influential driving factors on LULC changes included slope, GDP, and distance from highways. The interaction detection results imply either bilinear or nonlinear enhancement for any two driving factors impacting the LULC changes from 2000 to 2020. This comprehensive understanding of the spatiotemporal characteristics and driving mechanisms of LULC changes offers valuable insights for the planning and sustainable management of LULC in the JRB.

Response of ecosystem carbon storage to land use change from 1985 to 2050 in the Ningxia Section of Yellow River Basin, China
LIN Yanmin, HU Zhirui, LI Wenhui, CHEN Haonan, WANG Fang, NAN Xiongxiong, YANG Xuelong, ZHANG Wenjun
Journal of Arid Land. 2024, 16 (1): 110-130.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-024-0052-9
Abstract ( 21 )   HTML ( 6 )     PDF (1541KB) ( 125 )  

Regional sustainable development necessitates a holistic understanding of spatiotemporal variations in ecosystem carbon storage (ECS), particularly in ecologically sensitive areas with arid and semi-arid climate. In this study, we calculated the ECS in the Ningxia Section of Yellow River Basin, China from 1985 to 2020 using the Integrated Valuation of Ecosystem Services and Tradeoffs (InVEST) model based on land use data. We further predicted the spatial distribution of ECS in 2050 under four land use scenarios: natural development scenario (NDS), ecological protection scenario (EPS), cultivated land protection scenario (CPS), and urban development scenario (UDS) using the patch-generating land use simulation (PLUS) model, and quantified the influences of natural and human factors on the spatial differentiation of ECS using the geographical detector (Geodetector). Results showed that the total ECS of the study area initially increased from 1985 until reaching a peak at 402.36×106 t in 2010, followed by a decreasing trend to 2050. The spatial distribution of ECS was characterized by high values in the eastern and southern parts of the study area, and low values in the western and northern parts. Between 1985 and 2020, land use changes occurred mainly through the expansion of cultivated land, woodland, and construction land at the expense of unused land. The total ECS in 2050 under different land use scenarios (ranked as EPS>CPS>NDS>UDS) would be lower than that in 2020. Nighttime light was the largest contributor to the spatial differentiation of ECS, with soil type and annual mean temperature being the major natural driving factors. Findings of this study could provide guidance on the ecological construction and high-quality development in arid and semi-arid areas.

Spatiotemporal variations in ecosystem services and their trade-offs and synergies against the background of the gully control and land consolidation project on the Loess Plateau, China
WANG Jing, WEI Yulu, PENG Biao, LIU Siqi, LI Jianfeng
Journal of Arid Land. 2024, 16 (1): 131-145.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-024-0091-2
Abstract ( 19 )   HTML ( 5 )     PDF (1632KB) ( 58 )  

Studying the spatiotemporal variations in ecosystem services and their interrelationships on the Loess Plateau against the background of the gully control and land consolidation (GCLC) project has significant implications for ecological protection and quality development of the Yellow River Basin. Therefore, in this study, we took Yan'an City, Shaanxi Province of China, as the study area, selected four typical ecosystem services, including soil conservation service, water yield service, carbon storage service, and habitat quality service, and quantitatively evaluated the spatiotemporal variation characteristics and trade-offs and synergies of ecosystem services from 2010 to 2018 using the Integrated Valuation of Ecosystem Services and Trade-offs (InVEST) model. We also analysed the relationship between the GCLC project and regional ecosystem service changes in various regions (including 1 city, 2 districts, and 10 counties) of Yan'an City and proposed a coordinated development strategy between the GCLC project and the ecological environment. The results showed that, from 2010 to 2018, soil conservation service decreased by 7.76%, while the other three ecosystem services changed relatively little, with water yield service increasing by 0.56% and carbon storage service and habitat quality service decreasing by 0.16% and 0.14%, respectively. The ecological environment of Yan'an City developed in a balanced way between 2010 and 2018, and the four ecosystem services showed synergistic relationships, among which the synergistic relationships between soil conservation service and water yield service and between carbon storage service and habitat quality service were significant. The GCLC project had a negative impact on the ecosystem services of Yan'an City, and the impact on carbon storage service was more significant. This study provides a theoretical basis for the scientific evaluation of the ecological benefits of the GCLC project and the realization of a win-win situation between food security and ecological security.