Journal of Soils and Sediments

, Volume 20, Issue 1, pp 234–248 | Cite as

Variation in soil erosion resistance of slips deposition zone with progressive vegetation succession on the Loess Plateau, China

  • Hao Wang
  • Guanghui ZhangEmail author
  • Ningning Li
  • Pingzong Zhu
Soils, Sec 2 • Global Change, Environ Risk Assess, Sustainable Land Use • Research Article



Soil slips are widely distributed on the Loess Plateau. Most of them have experienced an ecological succession process, which has strong effects on the near-surface characteristics, and thereby influences soil detachment capacity by overland flow (Dc). This study quantified the effects of progressive succession of the deposition zone of soil slip on Dc and soil resistance to flowing water erosion reflected by rill erodibility (Kr) and critical shear stress (τc) on the Loess Plateau.

Materials and methods

Soil samples (diameter 10 cm, height 5 cm) were taken from seven deposition zones of soil slips covered by typical plant communities with different succession stages restored for 1 to 31 years. A 37-year grassland where no slip occurred covered by climax community was selected as the control. A hydraulic flume (4.0 m in length, 0.35 m in width) with a slope ranging from 0 to 60% was applied to determine Dc. Biological crusts thickness, soil texture, bulk density, cohesion (CH), water stability ability (WSA), organic matter content, root mass density (RD), and plant litter density (LD) were measured for each site.

Results and discussion

The measured Dc decreased rapidly when the soils were restored for 1 to 21 years, and then gradually leveled off. Dc could be well estimated by flow shear stress, CH, WSA, RD, and LD (NSE = 0.95). Kr decreased rapidly with succession till attained a stable stage after 21 years of succession. Kr could be well simulated by CH, WSA, RD, and LD (NSE = 0.92). τc increased generally with succession, although it fluctuated from 10 to 31 years. The temporal variation of τc was dominantly controlled by the biological crusts thickness and the content of WSA.


Natural ecological succession is an effective approach to promote soil resistance to flowing water erosion for the deposition zone of soil slip. The near-surface characteristics, such as CH, WSA, RD, and LD, were the key factors to control soil erosion for the deposition zone of soil slip on the Loess Plateau.


Loess Plateau Near-surface characteristics Progressive successive soil erosion Soil slip 



Financial assistance for this work was by the National Key R & D Program of China (2017YFC0504702), State Key Program of National Natural Science of China (41530858), and the Fund for Creative Research Groups of the National Natural Science Foundation of China (41621061). The authors thank the members of the Ansai Research station of Soil and Water Conservation, the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Ministry of Water Recourses for technical help.


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© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Earth Surface Processes and Resources EcologyBeijing Normal UniversityBeijingChina
  2. 2.Faculty of Geographical ScienceBeijing Normal UniversityBeijingChina

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