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Sustainability 2017, 9(10), 1729; doi:10.3390/su9101729

Spatial Association of Shrubs and Their Interrelation to Burrowing Site Preference of Subterranean Rodents on Dune Slope in the Otindag Sandy Land, China

1
Research Institute of Forestry New Technology, Chinese Academy of Forestry, Beijing 100091, China
2
Research Institute of Forest Ecology, Environment and Protection, Chinese Academy of Forestry, Beijing 100091, China
3
College of Desert Control Science and Engineering, Inner Mongolia Agricultural University, Hohhot 010018, China
4
Institute of Desertification Studies, Chinese Academy of Forestry, Beijing 100091, China
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 21 August 2017 / Revised: 18 September 2017 / Accepted: 20 September 2017 / Published: 26 September 2017
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Abstract

Rangelands worldwide have more shrubs now, and subterranean rangeland rodents show close interaction to shrubs when choosing a burrowing site. The study was conducted in Otindag Sandy Land in Inner Mongolia, China with the objective of determining the effects of slope position on spatial pattern and interaction of shrubs; how rodents choose their habitat in different slope; and shrubs and rodents influence each other. To accomplish the objective set, we used three physiographic units: Plot 1 (upper slope), Plot 2 (middle slope), and Plot 3 (lower slope), and all individual woody plants and rodent holes in the three plots were mapped. The result of the study showed that: (1) two shrub species show a random distribution trend in all three plots except an aggregated trend only at the smaller scale on the upper slope; (2) the majority of subterranean rodents preferred to select their burrowing sites under the shrub crown, and these selected shrub individuals had generally larger crown length than those unselected individuals. At the same time, the majority of these burrowing sites were located on the lower right direction. (3) The distribution of rodents holes differ across the slopes in the study area. In the three samples, the relative locations of burrowing sites to shrubs are mostly distributed down slope of shrubs. From upper slope to lower slope, this trend gradually enhanced. Our conclusion is that the increase in shrubs represents a pioneer phase in the rehabilitation of degraded sandy land ecosystems, and colonization of subterranean rangeland rodents near the shrubs is a clear indicator of stabilization of sand dunes. View Full-Text
Keywords: spatial pattern; crown size; habitat preference; nurse–protégéassociation; rehabilitation area spatial pattern; crown size; habitat preference; nurse–protégéassociation; rehabilitation area
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Jiang, L.; Wang, X.; Li, L.; Shi, Z.; Yang, X. Spatial Association of Shrubs and Their Interrelation to Burrowing Site Preference of Subterranean Rodents on Dune Slope in the Otindag Sandy Land, China. Sustainability 2017, 9, 1729.

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