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Chinese Journal of Applied Ecology ›› 2023, Vol. 34 ›› Issue (5): 1367-1374.doi: 10.13287/j.1001-9332.202305.012

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Variations of soil quality in the southern Qinghai-Tibet Plateau during 1980s to 2020s

BAI Jinke1, LI Xiaoyu1, WANG Li1,2*   

  1. 1College of Natural Resources and Environment, Northwest A&F University, Yangling 712100, Shaanxi, China;
    2State Key Laboratory of Soil Erosion and Dryland Farming on the Loess Plateau, Institute of Soil and Water Conservation, Chinese Academy of Sciences and Ministry of Water Resources, Yangling 712100, Shaanxi, China
  • Received:2022-10-14 Accepted:2023-02-22 Online:2023-05-15 Published:2023-11-15

Abstract: Climate warming and thawing of permafrost in the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau have resulted in soil erosion and the decline of soil quality. Determining the decadal variation of soil quality in the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau is the basis for scientific understanding of soil resources and the key to vegetation restoration and ecological reconstruction. In this study, we used eight indicators (including soil organic matter, total nitrogen, and total phosphorus) to eva-luate soil quality of montane coniferous forest zone (Tibet's natural geographical division zone Ⅱ) and montane shrubby steppe zone (zone Ⅳ) by calculating soil quality index (SQI) in the southern Qinghai-Tibet Plateau in the 1980s and 2020s. Variation partitioning (VPA) was used to examine the drivers for the heterogeneity of the spatial-temporal distribution of soil quality. The results showed that soil quality in each natural zone showed a downward trend in the past 40 years, with SQI of zone Ⅱ decreasing from 0.505 to 0.484 and that of zone Ⅳ decreasing from 0.458 to 0.425. The spatial distribution of soil nutrients and quality was heterogeneous, while soil nutrient conditions and quality in zone Ⅱ were better than those in zone Ⅳ in different periods. The VPA results indicated that the interaction of climate change, land degradation, and vegetation differences was the major cause of temporal variation in soil quality. Differences in climate and vegetation could better explain the spatial variation of SQI.

Key words: soil quality, climate change, land degradation, variation partitioning