Reproductive characteristics of a Populus euphratica population and prospects for its restoration in China

Dechang Cao, Jingwen Li, Zhenying Huang, Carol C. Baskin, Jerry M. Baskin, Peng Hao, Weilei Zhou, Junqing Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations

Abstract

Populus euphratica is a dominant tree in riparian ecosystems in arid areas of northwest China, but it fails to regenerate in these systems. This study evaluates causes for the failure of sexual and asexual regeneration of this species in the wild. P. euphratica disperses as many as 85743 seeds/m2 during summer, and the seeds germinate to 92.0% in distilled water and to 60.8% on silt. However, very few seeds (3.6%) can germinate on unflooded soil. The seed-rain season is prolonged by temporal variability in seed dispersal among individuals, which ensures that seedling emergence can occur during favorable conditions (i.e., floods and rainfall). As a result of water shortage and river channeling due to water usage and altered river flows, there are no safe sites on river banks for seed germination, which has led to the failure of P. euphratica to regenerate from seed. Root suckers of P. euphratica were present in 86% of the forest gaps investigated. However, extensive grazing has destroyed many of them and thus has reduced this form of regeneration. This research suggests that human activities are resulting in the failure of P. euphratica to regenerate. Changes in land management such as reduced use of concrete canals in Populus forests and/or reduced sheep grazing in these areas may promote their regeneration.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere39121
JournalPLoS ONE
Volume7
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 26 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

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