Hydrologic thresholds and changes in ANPP of artificial sand-fixing vegetation in a desert-oasis ecotone in Northwest China (ScienceDirect Publication: Journal of Arid Environments)

Publication date: Available online 1 August 2017
Source:Journal of Arid Environments
Author(s): Fang Li, Wenzhi Zhao
The interactive relationships between ecological and hydrological processes drive plant performance, community structure, and community succession in arid areas. Yet the nature of potential hydrologic thresholds for responses of vegetation remains poorly understood. In this paper, we report on hydrologic thresholds associated with aboveground net primary production (ANPP) of Haloxylon ammodendron (HA) and sand-fixation region (SFR) between 1987 and 2012 in the ecotone of desert and oasis in the northwest China. In particular, we focused on precipitation and soil moisture dynamics. Our results showed that 1) ANPP and soil moisture of both HA and SFR decreased from 1987 to 2005, and then reached a stable state; 2) nonlinear models provided a much better fit to the data than linear models, highlighting the presence of a discontinuity in vegetation ANPP changes along precipitation and soil moisture gradients; 3) precipitation, accumulated between preceding-year June to current-year August, of <160 mm, or soil moisture at < 1.4–1.5% may decrease ANPP. Our results provide insights into the thresholds of precipitation and soil moisture in a long-term sand-fixing ecosystem, and highlight the importance of legacy precipitation for the recovery of the sand-fixing ecosystem. Consequently, the findings provide useful references for further understanding of the mechanisms of ANPP changes in a sand-fixing ecosystem with changes in precipitation and soil moisture.