Journal of Arid Land

Article Title

Influence of tourist disturbance on soil properties, plant communities, and surface water quality in the Tianchi scenic area of Xinjiang, China


The impact of tourist disturbance on the environment has become a focal issue of environmental science, ecology, and travel management studies. To assess the influence of tourist disturbance on soils and plants in the Tianchi scenic area of Xinjiang, China, we compared soil properties and plant community characteristics at 0, 5, 10, and 20 m from the tourist trail within areas at three different altitudes, where the intensities of tourist disturbance are distinct. Surface water quality was also studied at three different levels relative to the Tianchi Lake. The results showed that tourist disturbance significantly increased soil pH within 10 m from the trail and soil bulk density on the edge of the trail, but significantly reduced soil organic matter and total nitrogen contents within 5 m from the trail. The number of tree seedlings on the edge of the trail and the shrub coverage and height of herbaceous plants within 5 m from the trail significantly decreased due to tourist disturbance. Changes in herbaceous plant diversity differed by soil zones. In the high altitude region, tourist disturbance led to a remarkable increase in the herbaceous plant diversity on the edge of the trail, while in the low altitude region, tourist disturbance had a low impact on the diversity of herbaceous plants. In addition, tourist activities polluted the surface water, significantly reducing water quality. Thus, current tourist activities have a significant negative impact on the ecological environment in the Tianchi scenic area.

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