Sand dune stabilization changes the vegetation characteristics and soil seed bank and their correlations with environmental factors.


Department of Earth Sciences, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI), Indianapolis, IN 46202, USA. Electronic address: [Email]


Currently the amount of data available on the effect of sand dune stabilization on species conservation in inter-dune lowland is very limited, especially for the sand dune systems in semi-arid regions. In this study, we determined whether the characteristics of above-ground vegetation, soil seed bank and their relationships with environmental factors changed with sand dune stabilization in the inter-dune lowlands in Horqin Sandy Land, China. Species composition, abundance and coverage of aboveground vegetation as well as soil seed bank composition and density were surveyed and their correlations with environmental factors (pH, organic matter content, total nitrogen and total phosphorus) were determined. The results showed 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. Our 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.


Active sand dune,Endemic species,Inter-dune lowland,Restoration,Semi-arid ecosystem,