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Effect of sand burial on the subcritical water repellency of a dominant moss crust in a revegetated area of the Tengger Desert, Northern China

  • Jia, Rongliang
  • Gao, Yanhong
  • Liu, Lichao
  • Yang, Haotian
  • Zhao, Yang
Published Article
Journal of Hydrology and Hydromechanics
Publication Date
Aug 10, 2020
DOI: 10.2478/johh-2020-0025
De Gruyter


Sand burial is a ubiquitous disturbance that influences the ecological and hydrological properties of moss crusts in many sandy desert areas. There is little available information regarding the effect of sand burial on the water repellency (WR) of moss crusts in desert areas. Therefore, this study evaluated the effects of sand burial (sand depths of 0 (control), 0.5, 1, 2, 4 and 10 mm) followed by three simulated precipitation regimes (through applying 4 and 6 mm, 2 and 3 mm, and 1 and 1.5 mm of distilled water at 8-day intervals in spring and autumn, respectively) on the WR of a widespread moss crust dominated by Bryum argenteum Hedw. in a revegetated area of the Tengger Desert, China. The results showed moss crust WR remained subcritical during the whole experiment, and that it considerably decreased immediately after sand burial, even though the values of WR were significantly higher in autumn than those in spring under the same treatment (p < 0.05). Furthermore, the depth threshold (TD) values for sand burials that reduced WR to zero were 1 and 2 mm in spring and autumn, respectively. After a recovery period of nearly one-season (72 days), the WR of the moss crust significantly increased (p < 0.05). In addition, sand burial had two separate effects on moss crust WR. Specifically, shallower sand burial (burial depth less than 0.5 mm) increased moss crust WR, whereas deeper sand burial (burial depth exceeds 0.5 mm) decreased it. The TD values also significantly increased to 2 and 4 mm in spring and autumn, respectively. These findings about the effects of sand burial on moss crust WR provide additional information that can be used to better understand the influence of sand burial on moss crust colonization and maintenance in arid sand-burial-stressed ecosystems, and to help explain why there are some contrasting viewpoints on biocrust WR.

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