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Front. Plant Sci. | doi: 10.3389/fpls.2019.00220

Shelterbelt poplar forests induced soil changes in deep soil profiles and climates contributed their inter-site variations in dryland regions, northeastern China

 Yan Wu1,  Qiong Wang2, Huimei Wang2, 3, Zhaoliang Zhong2, 3, Wenjie Wang2, 3* and  Shijie Han4*
  • 1Institute of Biological Engineering, Daqing Normal University, China
  • 2Key Laboratory of Plant Ecology, Northeast Forestry University, China
  • 3Key Laboratory of Plant Ecology, Northeast Forestry University, China
  • 4College of Life Science, Henan University, China

Abstract
The influence of shelterbelt afforestation on soils in different-depth profiles and interaction with climatic conditions are important for evaluating ecological effects of large-scale afforestation programs. In the Songnen Plain, northeastern China, 720 soil samples were collected from 5 different soil layers (0–20 cm, 20–40 cm, 40–60 cm, 60–80 cm, and 80–100 cm) in shelterbelt poplar forests and neighboring farmlands. Soil physiochemical properties [pH, electrical conductivity (EC), soil porosity, soil moisture and bulk density], soil carbon and nutrients [soil organic carbon(SOC), N, alkaline-hydrolyzed N, P, available P, K and available K], forest characteristics [tree height, diameter at breast height (DBH), and density], climatic conditions [mean annual temperature (MAT), mean annual precipitation (MAP), and aridity index (ARID)] and soil texture (percentage of silt, clay and sand) were measured. Results found that, for some parameters (bulk density, porosity, available K, and total P), the effects of shelterbelt afforestation were observed up to 100 cm deep; while the changes in available K and P were several-fold higher in the 0–20 cm soil layer than that in deeper layers (p < 0.05). For other parameters (soil pH and EC), shelterbelt-influences were mainly observed in surface soils, e.g., EC was 14.7% lower in shelterbelt plantations than that in farmlands in the 0–20 cm layer, about 2.5-3.5-fold higher than 60-100 cm soil inclusion. For soil moisture, shelterbelt afforestation decreased soil water by 7.3%–8.7% in deep soils (p < 0.05), while no significant change was in 0-20 cm soil. For SOC and N, no significant differences between shelterbelt and farmlands were found in all five-depth soil profiles. Large inter-site variations were found for all shelterbelt-induced soil changes (p < 0.05) except for total K in the 0–20 cm layer. MAT and silt content provided the greatest explanation powers for inter-site variations in shelterbelt-induced changes in various soil properties. However, in deeper soils, ARID and MAP explained more of the variation than that in surface Therefore, shelterbelt in northeastern China could affect soil properties down to 100 cm deep, with inter-site variations mainly controlled by climate and soil texture, and greater contribution from water characteristics in deeper soils.

Keywords: Poplar shelterbelt, Farmlands, Soil properties change, Deep-layer soil, Analysis of causes

Received: 28 Sep 2018; Accepted: 08 Feb 2019.

Edited by:

Zhiyou Yuan, College of Forestry, Northwest A&F University, China

Reviewed by:

Lu-Jun Li, National Station of Agroecosystems in Hailun, Chinese Academy of Sciences, China
Guofan Shao, Purdue University, United States  

Copyright: © 2019 Wu, Wang, Wang, Zhong, Wang and Han. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence:
Prof. Wenjie Wang, Key Laboratory of Plant Ecology, Northeast Forestry University, Harbin, 150040, Heilongjiang Province, China, wwj225@nefu.edu.cn
Prof. Shijie Han, College of Life Science, Henan University, Kaifeng, 475004, Henan Province, China, Hansj@iae.ac.cn