Global Ecology and Conservation
Understanding the adaptative behaviors of dominant desert-steppe species under varying levels of grazing-related environmental degradation is an important step in elucidating the survival strategies and environmental response mechanisms of desert plants. This study investigates the adaptative traits of three dominant plant species (Stipa breviflora, Cleistogenes squarrosa, and Convolvulus ammannii) from the perspectives of plant morphology, leaf structure, and photosynthesis in the Xilamuren desert steppe in Northwest China. The results suggest that the morphological, structural, and functional adjustments of desert plants were related to the development of drought-resistance mechanisms through water-use strategies, including increased water absorption and water-use efficiency and decreased water consumption. These findings enrich the existing knowledge of the environmental adaptation mechanisms of dominant plants in desert steppes, providing a scientific basis for the restoration of desert steppe ecologies and the formulation of suitable grazing policies.
Journal of Arid Environments
This study evaluates the social practices and ethnotaxonomic knowledge of traditional people living in the semi-arid south of Mendoza, Argentina (locally called puesteros) in order to understand their adaptations and resilience strategies and to clarify the fundamental link between past and present traditional land use practices and cultural identity. The puesteros study details the dynamics that link inhabitants and the biophysical environment, partly because this community is threatened with exile by a large hydroelectric project. The findings show knowledge of 39 plant species used as construction, firewood, medicine, and toxins. Also, the community shows a close attachment to this place, past and present, in terms of identity, cultural practices, and local knowledge of biodiversity and geographic features. Based on the interaction between puesteros and the landscape, the place and interactions can be referred as an ecocultural keystone landscape that deserves particular consideration in the face of large construction projects.
The ISME Journal
Desert soils harbor diverse communities of aerobic bacteria despite lacking substantial organic carbon inputs from vegetation. This study investigates desert topsoils and biological soil crusts collected along an aridity gradient traversing four climatic regions (sub-humid, semi-arid, arid, and hyper-arid). Metagenomic analysis indicated these communities vary in their capacity to use sunlight, organic compounds, and inorganic compounds as energy sources. Photosynthetic and chemosynthetic primary production co-occurred throughout the gradient, with photosynthesis dominant in biocrusts and chemosynthesis dominant in arid and hyper-arid soils. The findings suggest that the major bacterial lineages inhabiting hot deserts use different strategies for energy and carbon acquisition depending on resource availability.