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Long term effects of xerophytic shrub Haloxylon ammodendron plantations on soil properties and vegetation dynamics in northwest China


The xerophytic desert shrub Haloxylon ammodendron (C. A. Mey.) Bunge. is distributed naturally in Asian and African deserts, and is widely used for vegetation restoration in the desert regions of Northern China. However, there are limited long-term chrono-sequence studies on the impact of changed soil properties and vegetation dynamics following establishment of this shrub on mobile sand dunes. In Minqin County, Gansu Province, we investigated soil properties and herbaceous vegetation development of 10, 20, 30, 40, 50-year-old H. ammodendron plantations on mobile sand dunes. Soil sampling at two depths (0-5 and 5-20 cm) under the shrubs determined SOC, nutrition and soil physical characteristics. The results showed that: establishment of H. ammodendron had improved soil physio-chemical properties, increased thickness of soil crusts and coverage of biological soil crusts (BSCs), and promoted development of topsoil over an extended period of 5 decades. Soil texture and soil nutrition improved along the chrono-sequence according to three distinct phases: i) an initial fast development from 0 to 10 years, ii) a stabilizing phase from 10 to 30 years followed by iii) a relatively marked restoration development in 40 and 50-year-old plantations. Meanwhile, herbaceous community coverage also markedly increased in 30-year-old plantations. However, both soil and vegetation restoration were very slow due to low annual precipitation in Minqin county compared to other Northern China sand afforestation sites. Canonical Correspondence Analysis results demonstrated that herbaceous plant development was closely associated with changes in soil texture (increased clay and silt percentage) and availability of soil nutrients. Thus our results indicated that selection of the long-lived shrub H. ammodendron is an essential and effective tool in arid desert re-vegetation.


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The dataset is generated from the "Heihe Watershed Allied Telemetry Experimental Research (HiWATER)". User must have a clear statement in the article of the original data source and cite the dataset and papers in the Citation section.

Fund

This study was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 31360098, 31522013,31270754), the Fundament Research and Innovation Group Program of Gansu Province (145RJIA335) and the Fundament Research Funds for the Central Universities (lzujbky-2016-ct10)


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