Spatio-temporal variations in soil moisture and physicochemical properties of a typical semiarid sand-meadow-desert landscape as influenced by land use
Abstract. A good understanding of the interrelations between land cover alteration and changes in hydrologic conditions (e.g., soil moisture) as well as soil physicochemical properties (e.g., fine soil particles and nutrients) is crucial for maintaining the fragile hydrologic and environmental conditions of semiarid land, such as the Horqin Sandy Land in China, but is lacking in existing literature. The objectives of this study were to examine: (1) spatio-temporal variations of soil moisture and physicochemical properties in semiarid land; and (2) how those variations are influenced by land cover alteration. Using the data collected in a 9.71 km2 well-instrumented area of the Horqin Sandy Land, this study examined by visual examination and statistical analyses the spatio-temporal variations of soil moisture and physicochemical properties. The results indicated that for the study area, the soil moisture and physicochemical properties were dependent on local topography, soil texture, vegetation density, and human activity. Long-term reclamation for agriculture was found to reduce soil moisture by over 23 % and significantly (p-value < 0.05) lower the contents of soil organic matter, fine soil particles, and nutrients.