Journal cover Journal topic
Hydrology and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
doi:10.5194/hess-2016-214
© Author(s) 2016. This work is distributed
under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Research article
17 May 2016
Review status
A revision of this discussion paper was accepted for the journal Hydrology and Earth System Sciences (HESS) and is expected to appear here in due course.
The distribution pattern of desert riparian forests and its relationship with soil moisture and soil properties in the low reaches of Heihe River Basin, China
Jingyi Ding1, Wenwu Zhao1,2, Stefani Daryanto2, Lixin Wang2, Hao Fan1, and Qiang Feng1,3 1State Key Laboratory of Earth Surface Processes and Resource Ecology, College of Resource and Technology, Beijing Normal University, Beijing 100875, P. R. China
2Department of Earth Sciences, Indiana University - Purdue University, Indianapolis (IUPUI), Indianapolis, Indiana 46202, USA
3College of Forestry, Shanxi Agricultural University, Taigu, Shanxi 030801, P. R. China
Abstract. Desert riparian forests are critical habitats that provide a variety of ecosystem services in arid environments. They are also endangered ecosystem types that are sensitive to disturbance and threatened by desertification. Despite of previous studies stressed on the interactions between desert riparian forests and water availability, the lack of comprehensive information on the forests distribution range and their relationship with soil properties constraints further conservation efforts of this community under a changing climate. In this study, vegetation community characteristics, soil moisture and soil properties were investigated within a 3000 m radius around the river channel in the low reaches of Heihe River Basin, northwest China to determine the distribution pattern of desert riparian forests and their relationship with environmental factors. We found that desert riparian forests mainly distributed within the range of 2500 m from the river channel and the first 1000 m was regarded as the optimum range. Five types of vegetation communities were identified based on Two-way Indicator Species Analysis (TWINSPAN) and they gradually shifted from the riparian tree-shrub-herb communities to riparian-desert shrubs with increasing distance from the river channel. Vegetation community coverage and diversity indices formed bimodal patterns while community height and density declined significantly as the distance from the river increased. Soil moisture, soil physical properties, and soil nutrition explained 53.6 % of the variance in community characteristics and different environment variables influenced different community characteristics. Soil moisture, accounting for 62.7 % of the total explanation, mainly influenced the community coverage and density. Soil physical properties (e.g., bulk density, soil particle composition) exerted influence on shrub layer, while soil nutrition mainly affected community richness. With surface (0–30 cm) and deep (100–200 cm) soil moisture, bulk density and total phosphorus regarded as major determining factors in the community structure and diversity, conservation measures that protect the soil structure and prevent soil moisture deficiency (e.g., artificial soil cover and water conveyance channel) were suggested to better protect the desert riparian forests under climate change and intensive human disturbance.

Citation: Ding, J., Zhao, W., Daryanto, S., Wang, L., Fan, H., and Feng, Q.: The distribution pattern of desert riparian forests and its relationship with soil moisture and soil properties in the low reaches of Heihe River Basin, China, Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci. Discuss., doi:10.5194/hess-2016-214, in review, 2016.
Jingyi Ding et al.
Jingyi Ding et al.

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Short summary
Based on extensive field observations at multiple desert riparian forests locations in the low reaches of Heihe River Basin, northwest China. We found that: (i) desert riparian forests mainly distributed within 2500 m from the river channel and the first 1000 m provided the optimum condition; (ii) with soil moisture, and other soil properties accounted for 53.6 % of desert riparian forests variance, future ecological restoration should emphasize the importance of soil factors in this area.
Based on extensive field observations at multiple desert riparian forests locations in the low...
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