Journal of Arid Land

Article Title

Spatial heterogeneity of plant species on the windward slope of active sand dunes in a semi-arid region of China


Species richness and abundance are two important species diversity variables that have attracted particular attention because of their significance in determining present and future species composition conditions. This paper aims to explain the qualitative and quantitative relationships between species diversity pattern and grain size (i.e. size of the sampling unit), and species diversity pattern and sampling area, and to analyze species diversity variability on active sand dunes in the Horqin Sandy Land, northeastern Inner Mongolia, China. A 50 m×50 m sampling plot was selected on the windward slope, where the dominant species was annual herb Agriophyllum squarrosum. Species composition and abundance at five grain sizes were recorded, and the species-area curves were produced for thirteen grain sizes. The range of values for species abundance tended to increase with increasing grain size in the study area, whereas, generally, species richness did not follow this rule because of poor species richness on the windward slope of active sand dunes. However, the homogeneity of species richness increased significantly. With the increase in sampling area, species abundance increased linearly, but richness increased logarithmically. Furthermore, variograms showed that species diversity on the windward slope of active sand dunes was weakly anisotropic and the distribution pattern was random, according to the Moran Coefficient. The results also showed that species richness was low, with a random distribution pattern. This conflicts with the results of previous studies that showed spatial aggregation in lower richness in a sampling area within a community and inferred that the physical processes play a more important role in species diversity than distribution pattern on active sand dunes. Further research into different diversity patterns and mechanisms between active sand dunes and interdune lowlands should be conducted to better understand biodiversity conservation in sand dune fields.


abundance; richness; grain size; species-area curve; variogram; Horqin Sandy Land

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