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      The spatial distribution and temporal variation of desert riparian forests and their influencing factors in the downstream Heihe River basin, China

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      Hydrology and Earth System Sciences

      Copernicus GmbH

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          Abstract

          Desert riparian forests are the main restored vegetation community in Heihe River basin. They provide critical habitats and a variety of ecosystem services in this arid environment. Since desert riparian forests are also sensitive to disturbance, examining the spatial distribution and temporal variation of these forests and their influencing factors is important to determine the limiting factors of vegetation recovery after long-term restoration. In this study, field experiment and remote sensing data were used to determine the spatial distribution and temporal variation of desert riparian forests and their relationship with the environmental factors. We classified five types of vegetation communities at different distances from the river channel. Community coverage and diversity formed a bimodal pattern, peaking at the distances of 1000 and 3000 m from the river channel. In general, the temporal normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) trend from 2000 to 2014 was positive at different distances from the river channel, except for the region closest to the river bank (i.e. within 500 m from the river channel), which had been undergoing degradation since 2011. The spatial distribution of desert riparian forests was mainly influenced by the spatial heterogeneity of soil properties (e.g. soil moisture, bulk density and soil particle composition). Meanwhile, while the temporal variation of vegetation was affected by both the spatial heterogeneity of soil properties (e.g. soil moisture and soil particle composition) and to a lesser extent, the temporal variation of water availability (e.g. annual average and variability of groundwater, soil moisture and runoff). Since surface (0–30 cm) and deep (100–200 cm) soil moisture, bulk density and the annual average of soil moisture at 100 cm obtained from the remote sensing data were regarded as major determining factors of community distribution and temporal variation, conservation measures that protect the soil structure and prevent soil moisture depletion (e.g. artificial soil cover and water conveyance channels) were suggested to better protect desert riparian forests under climate change and intensive human disturbance.

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          Most cited references 51

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          THE ECOLOGY OF INTERFACES:Riparian Zones

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            The Vegetation N:P Ratio: a New Tool to Detect the Nature of Nutrient Limitation

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              Biodiversity increases the resistance of ecosystem productivity to climate extremes.

              It remains unclear whether biodiversity buffers ecosystems against climate extremes, which are becoming increasingly frequent worldwide. Early results suggested that the ecosystem productivity of diverse grassland plant communities was more resistant, changing less during drought, and more resilient, recovering more quickly after drought, than that of depauperate communities. However, subsequent experimental tests produced mixed results. Here we use data from 46 experiments that manipulated grassland plant diversity to test whether biodiversity provides resistance during and resilience after climate events. We show that biodiversity increased ecosystem resistance for a broad range of climate events, including wet or dry, moderate or extreme, and brief or prolonged events. Across all studies and climate events, the productivity of low-diversity communities with one or two species changed by approximately 50% during climate events, whereas that of high-diversity communities with 16-32 species was more resistant, changing by only approximately 25%. By a year after each climate event, ecosystem productivity had often fully recovered, or overshot, normal levels of productivity in both high- and low-diversity communities, leading to no detectable dependence of ecosystem resilience on biodiversity. Our results suggest that biodiversity mainly stabilizes ecosystem productivity, and productivity-dependent ecosystem services, by increasing resistance to climate events. Anthropogenic environmental changes that drive biodiversity loss thus seem likely to decrease ecosystem stability, and restoration of biodiversity to increase it, mainly by changing the resistance of ecosystem productivity to climate events.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Hydrology and Earth System Sciences
                Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci.
                Copernicus GmbH
                1607-7938
                2017
                May 09 2017
                : 21
                : 5
                : 2405-2419
                Article
                10.5194/hess-21-2405-2017
                © 2017

                https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

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