Biocrusts effects on water infiltration and evaporation in the Maowusu Desert, China

Effects of biological soil crusts on water infiltration and evaporation Yanchi Ningxia, Maowusu Desert, China

Biological soil crusts serve as a vanguard for improving the ecological environment in arid, semi-arid desertification areas. It is a good indicator of the level of improvement which the local ecological environment is undertaking. In desert areas, water condition is a key factor of improving the ecological environment. As a first layer protection, biological crusts play an important role in local vegetation succession due to their abilities to conserve and maintain moisture. Using Maowusu desert in Yanchi of Ningxia province as an example, after three years of research, this paper chooses three kinds of biological crusts including lichen, moss and cyanobacterial which are under the cover of Artemisia ordosica as research objects. The results of this study indicate that, the closer biological crusts are to Artemisia ordosica vegetation, the thicker they become. In the same position of Artemisia ordosica vegetation, the thickness of moss crusts is the highest, followed by lichen crusts, and the thickness of cyanobacterial crusts is the lowest. Biological soil crusts coverage protects the natural water content of soil layers from 0 to 5 cm. Also, it effects falling water to infiltrate deeper, and cannot prevent the surface water content from evaporating effectively. The effect of biological crusts blocking water infiltration decreases with the increase of rainfall. At the same rainfall level, moss crusts provide the strongest water infiltration blockage, followed by lichen crusts and cyanobacterial crusts. With the increase of rainfall, the depth of water infiltration increases. At the same rainfall level, the relationship of water infiltration depth is as follows: cyanobacterial crusts>lichen crusts>moss crusts. With the increase of biological crusts thickness, they blocking water infiltration capacity is stronger, and the depth of water infiltration is smaller. Analysis on the characteristic of simulated rainfall process on biological crusts shows that sandy land can be fixed by applying appropriate artificial biological crusts to build a sustainable forest protection system and to create a stable ecosystem in desertification area.

Li, B., Gao, J., Wang, X., Ma, L., Cui, Q., Veste, M. (2016). Effects of biological soil crusts on water infiltration and evaporation Yanchi Ningxia, Maowusu Desert, China. International Journal of Sediment Research, 
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ijsrc.2016.05.005

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