• Formation and ecological response of sand patches in the protection system of Shapotou section of the Baotou-Lanzhou railway, China

    分类: 地球科学 >> 地理学 提交时间: 2024-02-21 合作期刊: 《干旱区科学》

    摘要: The development of bare patches typically signifies a process of ecosystem degradation. Within the protection system of Shapotou section of the Baotou-Lanzhou railway, the extensive emergence of bare sand patches poses a threat to both stability and sustainability. However, there is limited knowledge regarding the morphology, dynamic changes, and ecological responses associated with these sand patches. Therefore, we analyzed the formation and development process of sand patches within the protection system and its effects on herbaceous vegetation growth and soil nutrients through field observation, survey, and indoor analysis methods. The results showed that sand patch development can be divided into three stages, i.e., formation, expansion, and stabilization, which correspond to the initial, actively developing, and semi-fixed sand patches, respectively. The average dimensions of all sand patch erosional areas were found to be 7.72 m in length, 3.91 m in width, and 0.32 m in depth. The actively developing sand patches were the largest, and the initial sand patches were the smallest. Throughout the stage of formation and expansion, the herbaceous community composition changed, and the plant density decreased by more than 50.95%. Moreover, the coverage and height of herbaceous plants decreased in the erosional area and slightly increased in the depositional lobe; and the fine particles and nutrients of soils in the erosional area and depositional lobe showed a decreasing trend. In the stabilization phases of sand patches, the area from the inlet to the bottom of sand patches becomes initially covered with crusts. Vegetation and 0–2 cm surface soil condition improved in the erosional area, but this improvement was not yet evident in the depositional lobe. Factors such as disturbance, climate change, and surface resistance to erosion exert notable influences on the formation and dynamics of sand patches. The results can provide evidence for the future treatment of sand patches and the management of the protection system of Shapotou section of the Baotou-Lanzhou railway.