Zhao, H.L., R.L. Zhou, Y.Z. Su, H. Zhang, L.Y Zhao and S. Drake
To understand the status and roles of shrubs in recovery processes of desertified land in the semi-arid areas of China, we investigated the effects of shrub canopy on soil properties, organic litter, seed bank and understory herbaceous community properties in the Horqin Sand Land, Mongolia. The results showed that in shifting sand dunes, content of very fine sand, silt and clay, organic matter, total N and P, available P and soil moisture at 0–20cm depth was higher under remnant shrub canopies of Caragana microphylla and Salix gordejevii than in open space. These results suggest that shrubs created significant “islands of fertility” and had an important role in maintaining or augmenting herbaceous species richness in shifting sand dunes, and could improve soil properties and facilitate vegetation recovery for controlling desertification processes.