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Telling a different story: plant recolonization after landslides under a semi-arid climate

Hu, Shu, Jiao, Juying, García-Fayos, Patricio, Kou, Meng, Chen, Yixian, Wang, Wanzhong
Plant and soil 2018 v.426 no.1-2 pp. 163-178
landslides, semiarid zones, soil properties, species diversity, vegetation cover, China
AIMS: We aimed to know how plant species colonize landslides under a semi-arid climate. METHODS: We selected 30 landslides triggered by the continuous rainstorms in the hilly-gullied region of the Chinese Loess Plateau in July 2013. We quantified post-landslide changes in a core list of soil properties, vegetation properties and plant functional traits and also analyzed their relationships. RESULTS: After landslides, there were no large changes in the soil properties except slope angle. Correspondingly, there were no large changes in plant species richness, species composition and the functional traits. The vegetation cover of scars (the newly exposed soil surfaces because of landslides) was significantly lower than those of deposits (the deposition zones of landslides) and undisturbed vegetated areas surrounding the landslides (control areas), but the vegetation recovery of scars should be only a matter of time. CONCLUSIONS: Under the semi-arid climate of the area, landslides do not have profound effects on soil properties and plant species richness and composition, telling a different story from those landslides under other climate regimes and implying great potential for the restoration of landslides.