Calcium content and high calcium adaptation of plants in karst areas of southwestern Hunan, China

Wei, Xiaocong; Deng, Xiangwen; Xiang, Wenhua; Lei, Pifeng; Ouyang, Shuai; Wen, Hongfang; Chen, Liang

Rocky desertification is a major ecological problem of land degradation in karst areas. In these areas, the high soil calcium (Ca) content has become an important environmental factor that can affect the restoration of vegetation. Consequently, the screening of plant species that can adapt to high Ca soil environments is a critical step in vegetation restoration. In this study, three grades of rocky desertification sample areas were selected in karst areas of southwestern Hunan, China (LRD: light rocky desertification; MRD: moderate rocky desertification; and IRD: intense rocky desertification). Each grade of these sample areas had three sample plots in different slope positions, each of which had four small quadrats (one in rocky-side areas, three in non-rocky-side areas). We measured the Ca content of leaves, branches, and roots from 41 plant species, as well as soil total Ca (TCa) and exchangeable Ca (ECa) at depths of 0–15, 15–30, and 30–45 cm in each small quadrat. The results showed that the soil inline-formulaCa2+ content in rocky-side areas was significantly higher than that in non-rocky-side areas (inline-formulap<0.05). The mean soil TCa and ECa content increased gradually along with the grade of rocky desertification, in the order IRD > MRD > LRD. For all plant functional groups, the plant Ca content of aboveground parts was significantly higher than that of the belowground parts (inline-formulap<0.05). The soil ECa content had significant effects on plant Ca content of the belowground parts but had no significant effects on plant Ca content of the aboveground parts. Of the 41 plant species that were sampled, 17 were found to be dominant (important value > 1). The differences in inline-formulaCa2+ content between the aboveground and belowground parts of the 17 dominant species were calculated, and their correlations with soil ECa content were analyzed. The results showed that these 17 species can be divided into three categories: Ca-indifferent plants, high-Ca plants, and low-Ca plants. These findings provide a vital theoretical basis and practical guide for vegetation restoration and ecosystem reconstruction in rocky desertification areas.

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Wei, Xiaocong / Deng, Xiangwen / Xiang, Wenhua / et al: Calcium content and high calcium adaptation of plants in karst areas of southwestern Hunan, China. 2018. Copernicus Publications.

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