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Journal of Arid Land

Article Title

Characteristics of soil seed banks at different geomorphic positions within the longitudinal sand dunes of the Gurbantunggut Desert, China

Abstract

Understanding the characteristics of soil seed banks in sand dunes is crucial to stabilize the dune systems and maintain the plant populations in deserts. In this study, we conducted a survey investigation in the field and a seed germination experiment in the laboratory to explore the characteristics of soil seed banks at various geomorphic positions of longitudinal sand dunes in the Gurbantunggut Desert, China. Totally, 17 plant species belonging to 17 genera and 9 families were identified in soil seed banks, and 35 plant species belonging to 34 genera and 17 families were identified in aboveground vegetation. Plant species richness in soil seed banks decreased with increasing soil depth. The highest species richness was presented in the upper slope of the windward slope and the lowest species richness was presented in the base of the windward slope. There was no significant difference in seed density of soil seed banks among the examined seven geomorphic positions. The highest seed density occurred in the lower slope of the leeward slope while the lowest occurred in the crest. Moreover, seed density decreased with increasing soil depth, being the highest in the upper soil layer (0–2 cm). For both soil seed banks and aboveground vegetation, there was no significant difference in Simpson’s diversity index among the seven geomorphic positions; however, Shannon-Wiener diversity index and Pielou’s evenness index showed significant differences among the seven geomorphic positions. Those results showed that although there was no significant difference in seed density of soil seed banks among the seven geomorphic positions, the geomorphic positions significantly affected the species richness, diversity and distribution of soil seed banks. Therefore, understanding the characteristics of soil seed banks at different geomorphic positions of sand dunes is essential to vegetation restoration or reestablishment. Furthermore, the Jaccard’s similarity coefficients of plant species between soil seed banks and aboveground vegetation at the seven geomorphic positions were low, suggesting that vegetation restoration or reestablishment processes should be promoted through adding seeds to surface layers.

First Page

355

Last Page

367

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