Chin J Plan Ecolo ›› 2017, Vol. 41 ›› Issue (9): 972-984.doi: 10.17521/cjpe.2017.0105

• Research Articles • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Characteristics of normalized difference vegetation index of biological soil crust during the succession process of artificial sand-fixing vegetation in the Tengger Desert, Northern China

Yun ZHAO1,2, Rong-Liang JIA1,*(), Yan-Hong GAO1, Yuan-Yuan ZHOU1,2, Jia-Ling TENG1,2   

  1. 1Shapotou Desert Research and Experiment Station, Northwest Institute of Eco-Environment and Resources, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Lanzhou 730000, China

    2University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
  • Received:2016-05-24 Revised:2017-08-26 Online:2017-10-23 Published:2017-09-10
  • Contact: Rong-Liang JIA


Aims Biological soil crust (hereafter crust) affects normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) values in arid desert ecosystems. This study aimed to demonstrate the feasibility of combining crust NDVI values with meteorological data to distinguish the crust successional stage at the regional scale. Meanwhile, the characteristics of crust NDVI could provide the basis for the error analysis of NDVI-based surface ecological parameters estimation in desert ecosystems. We also suggested the optimum periods for crust observation based on the multi-temporal remote sensing images.Methods NDVI values of five types of dominant crusts, three typical sand-fixing shrubs and bare sand were collected by spectrometer in the field. Crusts and shrubs were randomly selected in revegetated areas established in 1956, 1964, and 1973 at Shapotou, which is on the southeastern edge of the Tengger Desert. We used the space-for-time method to study the characteristics of crust NDVI values and their responses to precipitation and temperature during the succession process of artificial sand-fixing vegetation. Additionally, we evaluated the contribution of crust NDVI values to the whole ecosystem NDVI values by comparing the NDVI values of crusts, shrubs and bare sand.Important findings 1) With succession process of the artificial sand-fixing vegetation, the crust NDVI values significantly increased. Among different crust types, we found the following order of NDVI values: Didymodon vinealis crust > Bryum argenteum crust > mixed crust > lichen crust > algae crust. 2) Crust NDVI values were significantly affected by precipitation, temperature and their interaction, and the influences showed significant seasonal differences. Furthermore, we found significantly linear correlations between crust NDVI value and precipitation, and between crust NDVI value and the shallow soil moisture content covered by crust. A significantly negative linear correlation between daily mean temperature and crust NDVI value, and a significantly exponential correlation between the surface temperature of crust and its NDVI value. With the succession process of artificial sand-fixing vegetation, the response of crust NDVI value to precipitation and temperature became more sensitive. In addition, the response of crust NDVI value to temperature was more sensitive in spring than in summer, while that to precipitation was less sensitive in spring than in summer. 3) Moss crust NDVI value was significantly higher than that of shrubs and bare sand after the rainfall event in spring, while shrubs NDVI value was significantly higher than that of crust after the rainfall event in summer. Considering the coverage weights of different ground features in sand-fixing areas, crust NDVI values contributed 90.01% and 82.53% in spring and summer, respectively, to the regional NDVI values, which were higher than those of shrubs (9.99% and 17.47% in spring and in summer, respectively). Additionally, with the succession process of artificial sand-fixing vegetation, crust NDVI values contributed more, while shrubs contributed less to regional NDVI values.

Key words: normalized difference vegetation index, biological soil crust, vegetation succession, precipitation, temperature

Fig. 1

Seasonal changes in normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) values with the succession process of the artificial sand-fixing vegetation. 1973(42), 1964(51), 1956(59) represent year of revegetation (history of revegetation (a))."

Fig. 2

Changes in normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) values of biological soil crust with the succession process of artificial sand-fixing vegetation (mean + SD). A, Dry crust. B, Wet crust."

Table 1

Stepwise regressions of the sand-fixing vegetation successional age, precipitation, daily mean temperature, surface temperature and shallow soil moisture content covered by biological soil crust with their normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) values"

结皮类型 Crust type 拟合方程 Fitted curves equation R2 p
藻结皮 Algae crust NDVI = 0.146 + 0.006P -0.002ST + 0.001A -0.001T 0.494 <0.01
地衣结皮 Lichen crust NDVI = 0.002 + 0.021P + 0.004A + 0.002T - 0.002ST 0.663 <0.01
混生结皮 Mixed crust NDVI = 0.163 + 0.027P - 0.002T + 0.002A - 0.002ST 0.801 <0.01
真藓结皮 Bryum argenteum crust NDVI = 0.093 + 0.024M + 0.005A - 0.004T + 0.015P -0.002ST 0.707 <0.01
土生对齿藓结皮 Didymodon vinealis crust NDVI = -0.057 + 0.037M + 0.007A + 0.024P 0.819 <0.01

Table 2

The partial correlation coefficient of normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) values of biological soil crust in spring and summer"

结皮表面温度 Crust surface temperature -0.269** -0.139**
土壤体积含水量 Soil volumetric moisture content 0.146 0.473**
日平均气温 Daily mean temperature -0.321** -0.069
降水量 Precipitation 0.388** 0.629**

Fig. 3

Responses of normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) values of biological soil crust to precipitation and shallow soil moisture content covered by biological soil crust during the succession process of artificial sand-fixing vegetation. A, F, Algae crust. B, G, Lichen crust. C, H, Mixed crust. D, I, Bryum argenteum crust. E, J, Didymodon vinealis crust. Precipitation means the cumulative precipitation during the previous 24 hours before the observation time. 1973(42), 1964(51), 1956(59) represent year of revegetation (history of revegetation (a))."

Fig. 4

Responses of normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) values of biological soil crust to daily mean temperature and surface temperature during the succession process of artificial sand-fixing vegetation. A, F, Algae crust. B, G , Lichen crust. C, H, Mixed crust. D, I, Bryum argenteum crust. E, J, Didymodon vinealis crust. 1973(42), 1964(51), 1956(59) represent year of revegetation (history of revegetation (a))."

Fig. 5

Changes in the contribution rate of normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) values of biological soil crust and shrubs to the regional NDVI of sand-fixing system with the succession process of artificial sand-fixing vegetation."

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