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Responses of four dominant dryland plant species to climate change in the Junggar Basin, north-west China

Citation

Xiao, Jian et al. (2020), Responses of four dominant dryland plant species to climate change in the Junggar Basin, north-west China, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.qnk98sfbg

Abstract

Aim Dryland ecosystems are exceedingly sensitive to climate change. Desertification induced by both climate changes and human activities seriously threatens the dryland vegetation. However, the impact of climate change on distributions of dryland plant species has not been well documented. Here, we studied the potential distributions of four representative dryland plant species (Haloxylon ammodendron, Anabasis aphylla, Calligonum mongolicum, and Populus euphratica) under current and future climate scenarios in a temperate desert region, aiming to improve our understanding of the responses of dryland plant species to climate change and provide guidance for dryland conservation and afforestation. Location Junggar Basin, a large desert region in north-western China. Methods Occurrence data of the studied species were collected from an extensive field investigation of 2516 sampling sites in the Junggar Basin. Ensemble species distribution models using 10 algorithms were developed and used to predict the potential distribution of each studied species under current and future climate scenarios. Result H. ammodendron and A. aphylla were likely to lose most of their current suitable habitats under future climate scenarios, while C. mongolicum and P. euphratica were likely to expand their ranges or remain relatively stationary. Variable importance evaluation showed that the most important climate variables influencing species distributions differed across the studied species. These results may be explained by the different ecophysiological characteristics and adaptation strategies to the environment of the four studied species. Main conclusions We explored the responses of the representative dryland plant species to climate change in the Junggar Basin in north-western China. The different changes in suitability of different species imply that policymakers may need to reconsider the selection and combination of the afforestation species used in this area. This study can provide valuable reference for the management and conservation of dryland ecosystems under future climate change scenarios.

Methods

Extensive field investigations including 2516 sampling points were conducted in northern Xinjiang during the summer (May to September) of 2015 and 2016. In each sampling point, which is distributed every 1-2 km along the major roads in this region, the latitude and longitude were recorded and the presence (marked as 1 in the dataset) and absence (marked as 0 in the dataset) of the studied species (i.e. Haloxylon ammodendron, Anabasis aphylla, Calligonum mongolicum, and Populus euphratica) were identified.