Chin J Plant Ecol ›› 2020, Vol. 44 ›› Issue (10): 1028-1039.DOI: 10.17521/cjpe.2020.0216

• Research Articles • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Effects of microhabitat changes on seedling establishment of native plants in a dry valley

HU Hui1,2, YANG Yu1,2, BAO Wei-Kai1, LIU Xin1, LI Fang-Lan1,*()   

  1. 1CAS Key Laboratory of Mountain Ecological Restoration and Bioresource Utilization & Ecological Restoration and Biodiversity Conservation Key Laboratory of Sichuan Province, Chengdu Institute of Biology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Chengdu 610041, China
    2University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
  • Received:2020-06-29 Accepted:2020-08-26 Online:2020-10-20 Published:2020-10-11
  • Contact: LI Fang-Lan
  • Supported by:
    National Key R&D Program of China(2017YFC0505105);Science and Technology Major Project of Sichuan Province(2018SZDZX0033);Science and Technology Major Project of Sichuan Province(2018SZDZX0035)


Aims The patchy distribution patterns of vegetation result in heterogeneous microhabitats and thus affect seed germination and seedling establishment in arid ecosystems. The impact of changes in microhabitat conditions on the colonization of native plants and the specificity need to be understood for restoring vegetation by adopting microhabitat regulation measures in arid ecosystems where vegetation degradations are exacerbated by climate change and increasing anthropogenic disturbances.
Methods Three types of microhabitat conditions, including vegetation cover of shrubs and semi-shrubs, respectively, and bare lands, were selected in an dry valley in Minjiang River basin. The effects of microhabitat conditions on seedling establishment were studied in Bauhinia brachycarpa by measuring the survival rate and the height and biomass of seedlings. The microhabitat effects on seed germination and seedling establishment were also studied in six other native plant species on an extremely degraded roadside slope.
Important findings The results show that B. brachycarpa seedlings had significantly greater survival rate and total biomass, as well as greater biomass of roots and shoots on bare lands than in habitats with shrub and semi-shrub covers; whereas the specific leaf area and leaf mass fraction of seedlings were smaller on bare lands than in shrub and semi-shrub patches. Humus addition treatment significantly increased the total biomass of seedlings in bare land microhabitat. Moreover, non-woven geotextile cover and humus addition treatment increased the germination rate in herbaceous plants, resulting in high herb density four months after treatment. The results suggest that humus addition and geotextile cover are effective in regulating microhabitat for improvement of seedling colonization and maintenance of the community structure stability. In conclusion, uses of native plants are important in the vegetation restoration of extremely degraded sites in arid regions due to their strong adaptability to road slope habitats and capability of forming a shrub-grass mosaic community structures.

Key words: ecological restoration, interspecific variation, community structure, roadside, microhabitat, seedling establishment