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Interactions between vegetation dynamic and edaphic factors in the Great Salt Desert of central Iran

Abstract

Investigating the relationships between vegetation dynamic and edaphic factors provide management insights into factors affecting the growth and establishment of plant species and vegetation communities in saline areas. The aim of this study was to assess the spatial variability of various vegetation communities in relation to edaphic factors in the Great Salt Desert, central Iran. Fifteen vegetation communities were identified using the physiognomy-floristic method. Coverage and density of vegetation communities were determined using the transect plot method. Forty soil samples were collected from major horizons of fifteen profiles in vegetation communities, and analyzed in terms of following soil physical and chemical characteristics: soil texture, soluble Na+ concentration, sodium adsorption ratio (SAR), electrical conductivity (EC), pH, organic matter content, soluble Mg2+ and Ca2+ concentrations, carbonate and gypsum contents, and spontaneously- and mechanically-dispersible clay contents. Redundancy analysis was used to investigate the relationships between vegetation dynamic and edaphic factors. The generalized linear method (GLM) was used to find the plant species response curves against edaphic factors. Results showed that plant species responded differently to edaphic factors, in which soluble sodium concentration, EC, SAR, gypsum content and soil texture were identified as the most discriminative edaphic factors. The studied plant species were also found to have different ecological requirements and tolerance to edaphic factors, in which Tamarix aphylla and Halocnemum strobilaceum were identified as the most salt-resistant species in the region. Furthermore, the presence of Artemisia sieberi was highly related to soil sand and gypsum contents. The results implied that exploring the plant species response curves against edaphic factors can assist managers to lay out more appropriate restoration plans in similar arid areas.

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Acknowledgements

The authors would like to thank the Isfahan University of Technology, Iran for the financial support. We also gratefully acknowledge the field-work support of Qom Agricultural and Natural Resources Research and Education Center, Iran. The authors are grateful to Mr. Mohammad-Reza MORADI for his assistance in this study and Dr. Saeid POURMANAFI for his help to provide maps. We are grateful for the reviews from the editor, Ms. Audrey HE and two anonymous reviewers, who significantly improved the quality of this paper.

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Correspondence to Hossein Bashari.

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Bashari, H., Kazemi, S., Poodineh, S. et al. Interactions between vegetation dynamic and edaphic factors in the Great Salt Desert of central Iran. J. Arid Land 13, 123–134 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40333-021-0003-7

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s40333-021-0003-7

Keywords

  • desert
  • generalized linear method
  • mechanically-dispersible clay
  • ordination
  • plant species response curves
  • spontaneously-dispersible clay