J Integr Plant Biol. ›› 2008, Vol. 50 ›› Issue (5): 536-546.DOI: 10.1111/j.1744-7909.2007.00626.x

• Bioenergy Plants • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Age Structure and Growth of Degraded Populus euphratica Floodplain Forests in NW China and Perspectives for Their Recovery

Janneke Westermann, Stefan Zerbe and Dieter Eckstein   

  • Received:2006-10-24 Accepted:2007-06-10

Abstract: The Populus euphratica floodplain forests along the lower reaches of the Tarim river in continental-arid Xinjiang (NW China) have been declining in recent decades as a result of dam constructions and the withdrawal of water from the river. Since 2000, controlled flooding is carried out to counteract this process of degradation. However, the consequences of a changing water regime for the floodplain ecosystem are not yet sufficiently investigated. In 2004, we sampled a total of 150 P. euphratica trees along two transects at the middle and lower reaches of Tarim river to compare the age structure and growth of these two tree populations. The anthropogenic drawdown of the groundwater table had no effect on the average growth of the trees at the lower reaches. However, tree growth abruptly increased after controlled flooding, thus showing distinct signs of recovery.

Key words: Populus euphratica, Euphrates poplar, tree rings, arid land, human impact, controlled flooding.

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