Journal of Plant Research

, Volume 130, Issue 2, pp 291–299 | Cite as

Remediation of blowouts by clonal plants in Maqu degraded alpine grasslands of northwest China

  • JianJun Kang
  • WenZhi Zhao
  • Ming Zhao
Current Topics in Plant Research


The sand-fixation of plants is considered to be the most effective and fundamental measure in desertification control in many arid and semi-arid regions. Carex brunnescens (Carex spp) and Leymus secalinus (Leymus), two perennial clonal herbs native to the Maqu degraded alpine areas of northwest China, are dominant and constructive species in active sand dunes that have excellent adaptability to fix sand dunes found to date. In order to study the ability and mechanism of sandland blowout remediation by two clone plants C. brunnescens and L. secalinus, the artificially emulated blowouts were set up in the populations of two clonal plants in the field. The results showed that both C. brunnescens and L. secalinus produced more new ramets in the artificially emulated blowouts than in the natural conditions, suggesting that the two clonal plants had strong ability in blowouts remediation; while the biomass, number of leaves and height of new ramets in the artificially emulated blowouts were less than in the natural conditions due to the restriction of poor nutrients in the artificially emulated blowouts. The ability of blowouts remediation by C. brunnescens was stronger than L. secalinus, as it generated more new ramets than L. secalinus in the process of blowouts remediation. The new ramets of L. secalinus in the blowouts remediation were mainly generated by the buds in the rhizomes which spread from outside of the blowouts; while those of C. brunnescens were generated both by the buds in the rhizomes which spread from outside, and by the buds in the rhizomes inside which were freed from dormancy in the deeper soil under wind erosion conditions. These findings suggest that through rapid clonal expansion capability, C. brunnescens and L. secalinus exhibited strong ability in blowouts remediation which can be one of the most effective strategies to restore and reconstruct degraded vegetations in Maqu alpine areas of northwest China.


C. brunnescens Clonal plants L. secalinus Maqu alpine regions Perennial herb Blowouts remediation 



This work was supported by the Key Project of Chinese National Programs (973 Program) for Fundamental Research and Development (Grant No. 2013CB429903) and the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 31360087). The authors are very grateful to the anonymous reviewers and editors, as well as researcher Zihui Yang (Minqin National Studies Station for Desert Steppe Ecosystem, Gansu Desert Control Research Institute, Wuwei 733000, Gansu, China) for their critical review and comments, which helped to improve and clarify the manuscript.


  1. Amsberry L, Baker MA, Ewanchuk PJ, Bertness MD (2000) Clonal integration and the expansion of Phragmites australis. Ecol Appl 10:1110–1118CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bell AD (1984) Dynamic morphology: a contribution to plant population ecology. In: Dirzo R, Sarukhán J (eds) Perspectives on plant population ecology. Sinauer, Sunderland, pp 48–65Google Scholar
  3. Chen YF, Yu FH, Zhang CY, Dong M (2001) Role of clonal growth of the rehizomatous grass Psammochloa villosa in patch dynamics of Mu Us sandy land. Acta Ecol Sin 21:1745–1750Google Scholar
  4. Dech JP, Maun MA, Pazner MI (2005) Blowout dynamics on Lake Huron sand dunes: analysis of digital multispectral data from colour air photos. Catena 60:165–180CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Disraeli DJ (1984) The effect of sand deposits on the growth and morphology of Ammophila breviligulata. J Ecol 72:145–154CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Dong M (1996) Clonal growth in plants in relation to resource heterogeneity: foraging behavior. Acta Bot Sin 38:828–835Google Scholar
  7. Dong M, Chen YF, Yu FH (1999) The resources value of clonal plants in the environmental control of the transition belt. In: Dong M, Werger MJA (eds) The collection of ecological research. Southern-West University Press, Chongqing, pp 14–19Google Scholar
  8. Donohue KD, Foster R, Motzkin G (2000) Effects of the past and the present on species distribution: land-use history and demography of wintergreen forests. J Ecol 88:303–316CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Evans JP (1992) The effect of local resource availability and clonal integration on ramet functional morphology in Hydrocotyle bonariensis. Oecologia 89:265–276CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. Harris D, Davy AJ (1987) Carbon and nutrient allocation in Elymus farctus seedlings after burial with sand. Ann Bot 61:147–157CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Herben T, Hara T (1997) Competition and spatial dynamics of clonal plants. In: de Kroon H, van Groenendael J (eds) The ecology and evolution of clonal plants. Backbuys Published, Leiden, pp 331–357Google Scholar
  12. Kang JJ, Zhao WZ, Zhao M, Zheng Y, Yang K (2015) The cutting reproduction technique of Salix oritrepha and its application on degraded grasslands restoration. J Soil Water Conser 70:45–53CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Kang JJ, Zhao M, Li GY, Zhang JQ, Wang F (2016) Tentative research of sand-fixing characteristics of Carex brunnescens on desertified grassland in Maqu alpine regions. Soil Water Conser Chin 2:47–51Google Scholar
  14. Lal R (1998) Soil erosion impact on agronomic productivity and environment quality. Crit Rev Plant Sci 7:319–464CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Li SL, Zuidema PA, Yu FH, Werger MJA, Dong M (2010) Effects ofdenudation and burial on growth and reproduction of Artemisia ordosica in MuUs sandland. Ecol Res 25:655–661CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Liu FH, Liu J, Yu FH, Dong M (2007) Water integration patterns in two rhizomatous dune perennials of different clonal fragment size. Flora 202:106–110CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Luo WC, Zhao WZ (2015) Effects of wind erosion and sand burial on growth and reproduction of a clonal shrub. Flora 217:164–169CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Luo WC, Zhao WZ, Zeng FJ, Liu B (2015) Water but not photosynthates integration exists between mother and daughter ramets of a root-derived clonal shrub. Plant Ecol 216:331–342CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Maun MA (1994) Adaptations enhancing survival and establishment of seedlings on coastal dune systems. Vegetatio 111:59–70Google Scholar
  20. Maun MA (1996a) The effects of burial by sand on survival and growth of Calamovilfa longifolia. Écoscience 3:93–100CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Maun MA (1996b) The effects of burial by sand on survival and growth of Calamovilfa longifolia. Écoscience 3:93–100CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Moola FM, Vasseur L (2009) The importance of clonal growth to the recovery of Gaultheria procumbens L. (Ericaceae) after forest disturbance. Plant Ecol 201:319–337CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Okin GS, Murray B, Schlesinger WH (2001) Degradation of sandy arid shrubland environments: observations, process modeling, and management implications. J Arid Environ 47:123–144CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Qi DC, Li GY (2007) Status, Causes and Protection Countermeasures of Wetland Degradation in Maqu County in the Upper Yellow River. Wetl Sci 5:341–347Google Scholar
  25. Qi DC, Li GY, Chen WY, Chen WQ, Su YX (2006) Present status, causes and control countermeasures of natural grassland degeneration in Maqu country. J Desert Res 26:202–207Google Scholar
  26. Roiloa SR, Antelo B, Retuerto R (2014) Physiological integration modifies 15N in the clonal plant Fragaria vesca, suggesting preferential transport of nitrogen to water-stressed offspring. Ann Bot 114:399–411CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  27. Shi L, Zhang ZJ, Zhang CY, Zhang JZ (2004) Effects of sand burial on survival, growth, gas exchange and biomass allocation of Ulmus pumila seedlings in the Hunshandak Sandland, China. Ann Bot 94:553–560CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  28. Stuefer JF, Hutchings MJ (1994) Environmental heterogeneity and clonal growth: a study of the capacity for reciprocal translocation in Glechoma Hederacea L. Oecologia 100:302–308CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  29. Stuefer JF, During HJ, de Kroon H (1994) High benefits of clonal integration in two stoloniferous species, in response to heterogeneous light environments. J Ecol 82:511–518CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Stuefer JF, de Kroon H, During HJ (1996) Exploitation of environmental heterogeneity by spatial division of labour in a clonal plant. Funct Ecol 10:328–334CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Sutherland WJ, Stillman RA (1988) The foraging tactics of plants. Oikos 52:239–244CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Wang S, Hasi E (2008) Wind regime and blowouts geomorphology in Hulun Buir sandy grassland. Res Soil Water Conser 15:74–80Google Scholar
  33. Wang G, Qina J, Cheng G, Lai Y (2000) Eco-environmental de gradation and causal analysis in the source region of the Yellow River. Environ Geol 40:884–890Google Scholar
  34. Wang DX, Ding XW, Wang YY (2003) Influence of major environmental factors on difference of methane emission from Zoige plateau and Sanjiang plain wetlands. Wetl Sci 1:63–67Google Scholar
  35. Wang YB, Wang GX, Shen YP, Wang YL (2005) Degradation of the eco-environmental system in alpine meadow on the Tibetan Plateau. J Glaciol Geocryol 27:633–640Google Scholar
  36. Wang S, Hasi E, Zang J, Zhang P (2007) Geomorphological significance of air flow over saucer blowout of the Hulun Buir sandy grassland. J Des Res 27:745–749Google Scholar
  37. Wang JB, Wang ZG, Lu H (2008) Climate background analysis of grassland degradation in the important water source supply area of the Yellon River—a case study of Maqu County. Pratacul Sci 25:23–27Google Scholar
  38. Wang F, Zhu L, Zhao M, Kang JJ, Bing DH (2013) Effect of different treatments on seed germination of Carex brunnescens. Chin Agricul Sci Bull 29:36–39Google Scholar
  39. Wei Q, Wang F, Chen WY, Zhu L, Li GY, Qi DC (2010) Soil physical characteristics on different degraded alpine grasslands in Maqu County in upper Yellow River. Bull Soil Water Conser 30:16–21Google Scholar
  40. Xu CY, Schooler SS, Van Klinken RD (2010) Effects of clonal integration and light availability on the growth and physiology of two invasive herbs. J Ecol 98:833–844CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Yang YF, Zhang BT (2004) Clone growth and its age structure of Leymus secalimus modules in the Songnen Plain of China. Chin J Appl Ecol 15:2109–2112Google Scholar
  42. Ye XH, Dong M (2011) Remediation of blowout pits by clonal plants in Mu Us Sandland. Acta Ecol Sin 31:5505–5511CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Yu FH, Chen YF, Dong M (2002a) Clonal integration enhances survival and performance of Potentilla anserine suffering from partial sand burial on Ordos plateau. Chin Evolut Ecol 15:303–318CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Yu FH, Chen YF, Dong M (2002b) Clonal integration enhances survival and performance of Potentilla anserine suffering from partial sand burial on Ordos plateau. Chin Evolut Ecol 15:303–318CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Yu FH, Dong M, Krusi B (2004) Clonal integration helps Psammochloa villosa survive sand burial in an inland dune. New Phytol 162:697–704CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Yu FH, Wang N, He WM, Chu Y, Dong M (2008) Adaptation of rhizome connections in drylands: increasing tolerance of clones to wind erosion. Ann Bot 102:571–577CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  47. Zhang DP, Wang XK, Sun HW, Feng ZW (2007) HulunBuir sandy grassland blowouts: influence of human activities. J Des Res 27:214–220Google Scholar
  48. Zhao HL, Zhou RL, Zhang TH, Zhao XY (2006a) Effects of desertification on soil and crop growth properties in Horqin sandy cropland of Inner Mongolia, north China. Soil Till Res 87:175–185CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Zhao HL, Zhou RL, Zhang TH, Zhao XY (2006b) Effects of desertification on soil and crop growth properties in Horqin sandy cropland of Inner Mongolia, north China. Soil Till Res 87:175–185CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Zhu L, Wang F, Zhao M, Bing DH, Kang JJ (2013) Study on seed biological characteristics of Carex brunnescens. Soil Water Conser Chin 9:56–58Google Scholar
  51. Zou XY, Wang GY (1995) A study on desertification since late Holocene in Maqu area, upstream of Yellow River. J Desert Res 15:65–70Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Botanical Society of Japan and Springer Japan 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Linze Inland River Basin Research Station, Key Laboratory of Inland River Basin Ecohydrology, Northwest Institute of Eco-Environment and ResourcesChinese Academy of ScienceLanzhouChina
  2. 2.Gansu Research Academy of Forestry Science and TechnologyLanzhouChina

Personalised recommendations