, Volume 56, Issue 4, pp 1304–1312 | Cite as

Changes in winter snow depth affects photosynthesis and physiological characteristics of biological soil crusts in the Tengger Desert

  • R. Hui
  • R. M. ZhaoEmail author
  • L. C. Liu
  • Y. X. Li
  • H. T. Yang
  • Y. L. Wang
  • M. Xie
  • X. Q. Wang
Original paper


Water availability is a major limiting factor in desert ecosystems. However, a winter snowfall role in the growth of biological soil crusts is still less investigated. Here, four snow treatments were designed to evaluate the effects of snow depth on photosynthesis and physiological characteristics of biological soil crusts. Results showed that snow strongly affected the chlorophyll fluorescence properties. The increased snow depth led to increased contents of photosynthetic pigments and soluble proteins. However, all biological soil crusts also exhibited a decline in malondialdehyde and soluble sugar contents as snow increased. Results demonstrated that different biological soil crusts exhibited different responses to snow depth treatment due to differences in their morphological characteristics and microhabitat. In addition, interspecies differentiation in response to snow depth treatment might affect the survival of some biological soil crusts. Further, this influence might lead to changes in the structural composition and functional communities of biological soil crusts.

Additional key words

biological soil crusts chlorophyll fluorescence photosynthetic pigments soluble sugar water availability 



biological soil crusts






the maximum photochemical efficiency




the effective photochemical quantum yield of PSII


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Copyright information

© The Institute of Experimental Botany 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • R. Hui
    • 1
  • R. M. Zhao
    • 2
    Email author
  • L. C. Liu
    • 1
  • Y. X. Li
    • 3
  • H. T. Yang
    • 1
  • Y. L. Wang
    • 1
  • M. Xie
    • 1
  • X. Q. Wang
    • 4
  1. 1.Shapotou Desert Research and Experiment Station, Northwest Institute of Eco-Environment and ResourcesChinese Academy of SciencesLanzhouChina
  2. 2.School of Life SciencesLanzhou UniversityLanzhouChina
  3. 3.College of AgronomyShenyang Agricultural UniversityShenyangChina
  4. 4.Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and GeographyChinese Academy of SciencesUrumqiChina

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