Sciences in Cold and Arid Regions ›› 2016, Vol. 8 ›› Issue (1): 22-35.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1226.2016.00022

• ARTICLES • Previous Articles    

Soil water deficit and vegetation restoration in the refuse dumps of the Heidaigou open-pit coal mine, Inner Mongolia, China

Lei Huang1,2, Peng Zhang1,2, YiGang Hu1,2, Yang Zhao1,2   

  1. 1. Shapotou Desert Research and Experimental Station, Cold and Arid Regions Environmental and Engineering Research Institute, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Lanzhou, Gansu 730000, China;
    2. Key Laboratory of Stress Physiology and Ecology in Cold and Arid Regions of Gansu Province, Lanzhou, Gansu 730000, China
  • Received:2015-06-15 Revised:2015-08-06 Published:2018-11-23
  • Contact: Lei Huang
  • Supported by:
    This work was supported by the CAS Action-plan for Western Development (KZCX2-XB3-13-03) and Chinese National Natural Scientific Foundation (41201084;31170385).

Abstract: The sustainability of ecosystem restoration of refuse dumps in open-pit coal mines depends on plant species selection, their configuration, and the optimal usage of water resources. This study is based on field experiments in the northern refuse dump of the Heidaigou open-pit coal mine in Inner Mongolia of China established in 1995. Eight plant configurations, including trees, shrubs, grasses, and their combinations, as well as the adjacent community of natural vegetation, were selected. The succession of the revegetated plants, soil water storage, the spatiotemporal distribution of plant water deficits degree and its compensation degree were also studied. Results indicated that the vegetation cover (shrubs and herbaceous cover), richness, abundance, soil nutrients (soil organic matter, N and P), and biological soil crust coverage on the soil surface are significantly influenced by the vegetation configurations. The average soil water storage values in the shrub+grass and grass communities throughout the growing season are 208.69 mm and 206.55 mm, which are the closest to that of in the natural vegetation community (215.87 mm). Plant water deficits degree in the grass and shrub+grass communities were the lowest, but the degrees of water deficit compensation in these configuration were larger than those of the other vegetation configurations. Differences in plant water deficit degree and water compensation among the different configurations were significant (P<0.05). Plant water deficit degrees were predominantly minimal on the surface, increased with increasing soil depth, and remained stable at 80 cm soil depth. The soil moisture compensation in the natural vegetation, shrub+grass, and grass communities changed at 10%, while that in other vegetation communities changed between 20% and 40%. Overall, we conclude that the shrub+grass and grass configuration modes are the optimal vegetation restoration models in terms of ecohydrology for future ecological engineering projects.

Key words: refuse dumps, soil water storage, plant water deficit degree, plant water compensation degree, vegetation configurations

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