|Forest recovery may be influenced by several factors, of which fire is the most critical. However, moderate- and long-term effects of fire on forest recovery are less researched in Northwest China. Thus, the effects of different forest recovery time after fire (1917 (served as the control), 1974, 1983 and 1995) and fire severities (low, moderate and high) on larch (Larix sibirica Ledeb.) forest were investigated in the Kanas National Nature Reserve (KNNR), Northwest China in 2017. This paper analyzed post-fire changes in stand density, total basal area (TBA), litter mass, soil organic carbon (SOC) and soil nutrients (total nitrogen, total phosphorus and total potassium) with one-way analyses of variance. Results indicate that litter mass, TBA, SOC and soil nutrients increased with increasing recovery time after fire and decreasing fire severity, while the stand density showed an opposite response. The effects of fire disturbance on SOC and soil nutrients decreased with increasing soil depth. Moreover, we found that the time of more than 43 a is needed to recover the litter mass, TBA, SOC and soil nutrients to the pre-fire level. In conclusion, high-severity fire caused the greatest variations in stand structure and soil of larch forest, and low-severity fire was more advantageous for post-fire forest stand structure and soil recovery in the KNNR. Therefore, low-severity fire can be an efficient management mean through reducing the accumulation of forest floor fuel of post-fire forests in the KNNR, Northwest China.|
|Soil tillage and straw retention in dryland areas may affect the soil aggregates and the distribution of total organic carbon. The aims of this study were to establish how different tillage and straw retention practices affect the soil aggregates and soil organic carbon (SOC) and total nitrogen (TN) contents in the aggregate fractions based on a long-term (approximately 15 years) field experiment in the semi-arid western Loess Plateau, northwestern China. The experiment included four soil treatments, i.e., conventional tillage with straw removed (T), conventional tillage with straw incorporated (TS), no tillage with straw removed (NT) and no tillage with straw retention (NTS), which were arranged in a complete randomized block design. The wet-sieving method was used to separate four size fractions of aggregates, namely, large macroaggregates (LA, >2000 μm), small macroaggregates (SA, 250–2000 μm), microaggregates (MA, 53–250 μm), and silt and clay (SC, <53 μm). Compared to the conventional tillage practices (including T and TS treatments), the percentages of the macroaggregate fractions (LA and SA) under the conservation tillage practices (including NT and NTS treatments) were increased by 41.2%–56.6%, with the NTS treatment having the greatest effect. For soil layers of 0–5, 5–10 and 10–30 cm, values of the mean weight diameter (MWD) under the TS and NTS treatments were 10.68%, 13.83% and 17.65%, respectively. They were 18.45%, 19.15% and 14.12% higher than those under the T treatment, respectively. The maximum contents of the aggregate-associated SOC and TN were detected in the SA fraction, with the greatest effect being observed for the NTS treatment. The SOC and TN contents were significantly higher under the NTS and TS treatments than under the T treatment. Also, the increases in SOC and TN levels were much higher in the straw-retention plots than in the straw-removed plots. The macroaggregates (including LA and SA fractions) were the major pools for SOC and TN, regardless of tillage practices, storing 3.25–6.81 g C/kg soil and 0.34–0.62 g N/kg soil. Based on the above results, we recommend the NTS treatment as the best option to boost soil aggregates and to reinforce carbon and nitrogen sequestration in soils in the semi-arid western Loess Plateau of northwestern China.|
|The relationships between soil total nitrogen (STN) and influencing factors are scale-dependent. The objective of this study was to identify the multi-scale spatial relationships of STN with selected environmental factors (elevation, slope and topographic wetness index), intrinsic soil factors (soil bulk density, sand content, silt content, and clay content) and combined environmental factors (including the first two principal components (PC1 and PC2) of the Vis-NIR soil spectra) along three sampling transects located at the upstream, midstream and downstream of Taiyuan Basin on the Chinese Loess Plateau. We separated the multivariate data series of STN and influencing factors at each transect into six intrinsic mode functions (IMFs) and one residue by multivariate empirical mode decomposition (MEMD). Meanwhile, we obtained the predicted equations of STN based on MEMD by stepwise multiple linear regression (SMLR). The results indicated that the dominant scales of explained variance in STN were at scale 995 m for transect 1, at scales 956 and 8852 m for transect 2, and at scales 972, 5716 and 12,317 m for transect 3. Multi-scale correlation coefficients between STN and influencing factors were less significant in transect 3 than in transects 1 and 2. The goodness of fit root mean square error (RMSE), normalized root mean square error (NRMSE), and coefficient of determination (R2) indicated that the prediction of STN at the sampling scale by summing all of the predicted IMFs and residue was more accurate than that by SMLR directly. Therefore, the multi-scale method of MEMD has a good potential in characterizing the multi-scale spatial relationships between STN and influencing factors at the basin landscape scale.|
Soil organic carbon (SOC) and soil total nitrogen (STN) in arid regions are important components of global C and the N cycles, and their response to climate change will have important implications for both ecosystem processes and global climate feedbacks. Grassland ecosystems of Funyun County in the southern foot of the Altay Mountains are characterized by complex topography, suggesting large variability in the spatial distribution of SOC and STN. However, there has been little investigation of SOC and STN on grasslands in arid regions with a mountain-basin structure. Therefore, we investigated the characteristics of SOC and STN in different grassland types in a mountain-basin system at the southern foot of the Altai Mountains, north of the Junggar Basin in China, and explored their potential influencing factors and relationships with meteorological factors and soil properties. We found that the concentrations and storages of SOC and STN varied significantly with grassland type, and showed a decreasing trend along a decreasing elevation gradient in alpine meadow, mountain meadow, temperate typical steppe, temperate steppe desert, and temperate steppe desert. In addition, the SOC and STN concentrations decreased with depth, except in the temperate desert steppe. According to Pearson's correlation values and redundancy analysis, the mean annual precipitation, soil moisture content and soil available N concentration were significantly positively correlated with the SOC and STN concentrations. In contrast, the mean annual temperature, pH, and soil bulk density were significantly and negatively correlated with the SOC and STN concentrations. The mean annual precipitation and mean annual temperature were the primary factors related to the SOC and STN concentrations. The distributions of the SOC and STN concentrations were highly regulated by the elevation-induced differences in meteorological factors. Mean annual precipitation and mean annual temperature together explained 97.85% and 98.38% of the overall variations in the SOC and STN concentrations, respectively, at soil depth of 0–40 cm, with precipitation making the greatest contribution. Our results provide a basis for estimating and predicting SOC and STN concentrations in grasslands in arid regions with a mountain-basin structure.