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Open AccessArticle

Spatial Pattern and Population Structure of Artemisia ordosica Shrub in a Desert Grassland under Enclosure, Northwest China

by Jiankang Liu 1 and Kebin Zhang 1,2,*
1
School of Soil and Water Conservation, Beijing Forestry University, Beijing 100083, China
2
Key Laboratory of State Forestry Administration on Soil and Water Conservation, Beijing Forestry University, Beijing 100083, China
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2018, 15(5), 946; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph15050946
Received: 4 April 2018 / Revised: 2 May 2018 / Accepted: 2 May 2018 / Published: 9 May 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Green Environment, Green Operations and Sustainability)
Enclosure is an effective practice for restoring and rehabilitating the degraded grassland ecosystem caused by overgrazing. Shrub species, which are dominant in most desert grasslands in arid and semiarid regions, have some beneficial ecological functions for grassland restoration. However, how the population structure and spatial pattern of the Artemisia ordosica shrub changes in a grassland ecosystem under enclosed practice is not well understood. This study, conducted in the Mu Us desert in northwest China, was designed to measure the A. ordosica population according to the chronosequence of enclosure (enclosure periods ranged from 5 years, 10 years, 15 years, and 25 years), contrasting this with an adjacent continuously grazed grassland. The results showed that the enclosed grasslands had a higher number of individuals of different age classes (seedling, adult, aging, and dead group) and greater population coverage, but shrubs had significant lower (p < 0.05) crown diameter and height in comparison with those in continuously grazed grassland. Further, enclosed grasslands had a significantly higher (p < 0.05) Shannon-Wiener index (H) and Evenness index (E), but a significantly lower (p < 0.05) Richness index (R) than continuously grazed grassland. The crown of A. ordosica showed a significant linear positive correlation with height in all plots across succession, indicating that it was feasible to analyze the age structure by crown. The crown-class distribution structure of the A. ordosica population approximated a Gaussian distribution model in all survey plots. Within the population, seedling and adult groups exhibited aggregated spatial distribution at small scales, while aging and dead A. ordosica groups showed random distribution at almost all scales in different plots. The seedling A. ordosica group showed a positive correlation with adults at small scales in all plots except in 10 years of enclosure. However, it showed independent correlation with aging and dead groups at almost all scales. In long-term enclosed plots, the mortality rate of the A. ordosica population increased, therefore assistance management practices, such as fertilization, mowing, interval grazing, and seasonal grazing, must be employed to maintain population stability after long-term enclosure. This study can improve understanding and clarify the effects of enclosures in the desert grasslands of northwest China. View Full-Text
Keywords: enclosure; spatial pattern; population structure; desert grassland; recruitment enclosure; spatial pattern; population structure; desert grassland; recruitment
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Liu, J.; Zhang, K. Spatial Pattern and Population Structure of Artemisia ordosica Shrub in a Desert Grassland under Enclosure, Northwest China. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2018, 15, 946.

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