Sand dune mobility in desert ecosystems reflects the underlying ecological processes, including biotic interactions, seed dispersal, vegetation succession, and environmental change. Understanding the characteristics of above-ground vegetation, soil seed bank and their relationships with environmental factors changed with sand dune stabilization is very important to improve our ability to conserve biodiversity and to manage ecosystems.
Ecological patterns and processes in dune ecosystems have been a research focus in recent years,
However, the information about the effect of sand dune stabilization on species conservation in inter-dunelowland is still lacking. Dr. WANG Yongcui, a researcher of Institute of Applied Ecology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, examined the relationship between vegetation characteristics and soil seed bank and their correlations with environmental factors of sand dune stabilization changes.
They found that changes in the relationship between aboveground vegetation, soil seed bank and soil quality followed the changes in aboveground vegetation and soil seed banks. Aboveground vegetation species richness increased with sand dune stabilization, but soil seed bank species richness declined. The inter-dune lowland of active sand dunes could provide specific habitats for some endemic species and pioneer psammophyte species as indicated by data on aboveground vegetation and soil seed bank.
The results suggested that both active and stabilized sand dunes should be maintained since active sand dunes are essential for the survival of endemic or pioneer species and stabilized sand dunes are important for sustaining species richness.
The study entitled "Sand dune stabilization changes the vegetation characteristics and soil seed bank and their correlations with environmental factors" has been published in Science of the Total Environment.
This research is financially supported by National Natural Science Foundation of China, Doctoral Scientific Research Foundation of Liaoning province.