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Potential of native shrubs Haloxylon salicornicum and Calligonum Polygonoides for restoration of degraded lands in Arid Western Rajasthan, India

Potential of native shrubs Haloxylon salicornicum and Calligonum Polygonoides for restoration of degraded lands in Arid Western Rajasthan, India

Environmental Management 55(1): 205-216

Shrub-induced soil property spatial heterogeneity is common in arid and semi-arid ecosystems and aids desertified land restoration. However, the effectiveness of this technique may rely on the plant species used and the habitat conditions present. To assess the degree to which planting two native species, Haloxylon salicornicum and Calligonum polygonoides, facilitates degraded land restoration, soil and herbaceous plant community properties were measured 7 years after planting. Soil samples were extracted at two depths (0-5 and 5-20 cm) from three sub-habitats, i.e., under the shrub canopy, from alleys between shrubs and from the open area. Shrub planting increased the quantity of silt + clay content (30-39 %); enhanced water holding capacities (24-30 %); increased the levels of organic carbon (48-69 %), available nitrogen (31-47 %), available phosphorus (32-41 %), and electrical conductivity (21-33 %); and decreased the pH (7-12 %) and bulk density levels (5-6 %) in the surface layer of soils beneath the canopy. Soil property changes were more significant at the surface (0-5 cm) than in the deeper layer (5-20 cm), and were more pronounced under H. salicornicum than under C. polygonoides. Furthermore, the density and biomass levels of herbaceous plants were 1.1 to 1.2 and 1.4 to 1.6 times greater, respectively, in the shrub alleys than in open area. H. salicornicum induced more robust soil amelioration and herbaceous plant facilitative properties than did C. polygonoides. Artificially planting these shrubs may thus be employed to restore degraded areas of arid regions.

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Accession: 055082321

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PMID: 25239772

DOI: 10.1007/s00267-014-0372-1

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