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Sustainability 2018, 10(3), 589;

Spatiotemporal Patterns of Desertification Dynamics and Desertification Effects on Ecosystem Services in the Mu Us Desert in China

School of Ecology and Environment, Inner Mongolia University, Hohhot 010021, China
College of Resources and Environment, Baotou Normal College, Inner Mongolia University of Science and Technology, Baotou 014030, China
Department of Geography and Planning, University at Albany, State University of New York, Albany, NY 12222, USA
Inner Mongolia Academy of Forestry Science, Hohhot 010010, China
These authors contributed equally to this work and should be considered co-first authors.
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 30 December 2017 / Revised: 13 February 2018 / Accepted: 23 February 2018 / Published: 26 February 2018
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Degradation of semi-arid and arid ecosystems due to desertification is arguably one of the main obstacles for sustainability in those regions. In recent decades, the Mu Us Desert in China has experienced such ecological degradation making quantification of spatial patterns of desertification in this area an important research topic. We analyzed desertification dynamics for seven periods from 1986 to 2015 and focused on five ecosystem services including soil conservation, water retention, net primary productivity (NPP), crop productivity, and livestock productivity, all assessed for 2015. Furthermore, we examined how ecosystem services relate to each other and are impacted by desertification. Three major conclusions are drawn from the study. First, the eastern part of the study area experienced overall improvement while desertification in the west first increased and then reversed its trend during those periods between 1986 and 2015. Second, significant synergistic relationships are observed for three regulating services (soil conservation, water retention, NPP) and two provisioning services (crop productivity and livestock productivity). Strong relationships across different types of ecosystem services were found only between crop productivity and NPP. Third, in response to increasing desertification, the three regulating services exhibit a monotonically decreasing trend, while the two provisioning services follow a hump-shaped response. View Full-Text
Keywords: desertification; Mu Us Desert; provisioning services; regulating services; synergy desertification; Mu Us Desert; provisioning services; regulating services; synergy

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Liu, Q.; Zhao, Y.; Zhang, X.; Buyantuev, A.; Niu, J.; Wang, X. Spatiotemporal Patterns of Desertification Dynamics and Desertification Effects on Ecosystem Services in the Mu Us Desert in China. Sustainability 2018, 10, 589.

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