Journal of Arid Land

Article Title

Effects of vegetation types on soil water dynamics during vegetation restoration in the Mu Us Sandy Land, northwestern China


The arid and semi-arid northwestern China has been undergoing ecological degradation and the efforts to reverse the ecological degradation have been undertaken for many years. Some shifting dunes have been fixed and the vegetation has been partially recovered in certain areas and the Mu Us Sandy Land in the Ordos Plateau is an example of the success. The present study attempts to reveal the relationships between the vegetation restoration and ecohydrology in the Mu Us Sandy Land. We continuously measured soil water content at 10-min intervals under three vegetation types (i.e., shifting dune, shrub-dominated community, and herb-dominated community) in the Mu Us Sandy Land from April 2012 to October 2013. The results show the infiltration coefficient increased with increased rainfall amount and eventually reached a stable value. Infiltration coefficients were 0.91, 0.64, and 0.74 in the shifting dune, in the shrub-dominated community, and in the herb-dominated community, respectively. Cumulative infiltration and soil texture are two vital factors affecting the depths of rainfall penetration. Only rainfall events larger than 35.0 mm could recharge soil water at the 60–80 cm layer in the herb-dominated community. Our results imply that the expected forward succession of restored vegetation may be destined to deterioration after reaching the climax simply because of following two facts: (1) soil water is mainly retained at shallower layer and (2) plant fine roots mainly distribute in deeper layer in the herb-dominated community.


ecohydrology; soil water content; vegetation restoration; Artemisia ordosica community

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