Chin J Plant Ecol ›› 2016, Vol. 40 ›› Issue (7): 723-734.DOI: 10.17521/cjpe.2015.0441

• Research Articles • Previous Articles    

Impacts of the removal of vascular plants on physiological and biochemical characteristics of Syntrichia caninervis during winter season in a temperate desert

Ben-Feng YIN1,2, Yuan-Ming ZHANG2, An-Ru LOU1,*()   

  1. 1State Key Laboratory of Earth Surface Processes and Resource Ecology, College of Life Sciences, Beijing Normal University, Beijing 100875, China
    2Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography, Key Laboratory of Biogeography and Bioresource in Arid Land, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Ürümqi 830011, China
  • Received:2015-12-04 Accepted:2016-05-09 Online:2016-07-10 Published:2016-07-07
  • Contact: An-Ru LOU


Aims Patchily distributed biological soil crusts and shrubs is one of the main vegetation cover types in Gurbantünggüt desert. The existence of shrubs in desert areas serves not only as a shelter for small animals, but also a good living condition for cryptogams and some herbs. Syntrichia caninervis, a dominant moss species in Gurbantünggüt desert, is patchily distributed under shrub canopy and open spaces between vascular plants. To our knowledge, the impacts of the removal of shrub canopy on physiological and biochemical characteristics of S. caninervis during the winter is still unknown.
Methods We simulated grazing of animals on Ephedra distachya at various rates (shrubs left intact, 50% shrubs removed, and shrubs removed completely) by cutting different percent of above-ground shoots of E. distachya. The shoot water content, chlorophyll fluorescence, proline content, soluble sugar content, soluble protein content, malonyldialdehyde (MDA) content, peroxidase (POD) and superoxide dismutase (SOD) activity were compared.
Important findings The results show that, as for proline and soluble sugar contents of tested S. caninervis, there were no significant differences among three treatments of shrub canopy. However, the MDA content, and the activities of POD, SOD, CAT were significantly higher than nature shrubs in snow cover periods. During snow-melting periods, soil moisture and temperature did not served as limiting factors on the growth of S. caninervis. The soluble sugar content, and the activities of POD, CAT with shrub removal were significantly higher than shrubs left intact. This may indicate that the decline of the function of maintaining constant soil temperature due to shrub canopy increased the damage of temperature on moss plants. In addition, as for physiological and biochemical characteristics, there were no significant differences between two treatments of 50% shrub canopy and shrub canopy left intact. In snow covered periods and snow melting periods, the MDA content, the activities of POD, SOD and CAT of S. caninervis under shrub canopy removed completely were significantly higher than that of 50% shrub canopy and shrub canopy left intact, except for soluble protein content. The duration of chlorophyll fluorescence activity of S. caninervis growing in habitats with shrubs removed completely was significantly shorter than that of S. caninervis growing in habitats of 50% shrub canopy and shrub canopy left intact. This result indicated that the removal of shrubs may increase the UV-B radiation and weaken the “moisture island effects” developed by the existence of shrub canopy.

Key words: Gurbantünggüt desert, Syntrichia caninervis, biological soil crusts, snow cover