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PLoS One. 2013;8(3):e58331. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0058331. Epub 2013 Mar 7.

Spatial patterns and natural recruitment of native shrubs in a semi-arid sandy land.

Author information

1
Institute of Desertification Studies, Chinese Academy of Forestry, Haidian, Beijing, China.

Abstract

Passive restoration depending on native shrubs is an attractive approach for restoring desertified landscapes in semi-arid sandy regions. We sought to understand the relationships between spatial patterns of native shrubs and their survival ability in sandy environments. Furthermore, we applied our results to better understand whether passive restoration is feasible for desertified landscapes in semi-arid sandy regions. The study was conducted in the semi-arid Mu Us sandy land of northern China with the native shrub Artemisia ordosica. We analyzed population structures and patterns of A. ordosica at the edges and centers of land patches where sand was stabilized by A. ordosica-dominated vegetation. Saplings were more aggregated than adults, and both were more aggregated at the patch edges than at the patch centers. At the patch edges, spatial association of the saplings with the adults was mostly positive at distances 0.3-6.6 m, and turned from positive to neutral, and even negative, at other distances. At the patch centers, the saplings were spaced almost randomly around the adults, and their distances from the adults did not seem to affect their locations. A greater number of A. ordosica individuals emerged at the patch edges than at the patch centers. Such patterns may have resulted from their integrative adjustment to specific conditions of soil water supply and sand drift intensity. These findings suggest that in semi-arid sandy regions, native shrubs that are well-adapted to local environments may serve as low-cost and competent ecological engineers that can promote the passive restoration of surrounding patches of mobile sandy land.

PMID:
23505489
PMCID:
PMC3591353
DOI:
10.1371/journal.pone.0058331
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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