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    We compared soil properties beneath naturally-occurring patches of Lycium ruthenicum Murray (fam. Solanaceae) to evaluate the shrub’s potential to improve the fertility of saline soils. Soil pH, total nitrogen and carbon and extractable potassium, magnesium and phosphorus were respectively significantly higher in the A and B horizons of Lycium shrub patches compared to adjacent unvegetated soils. The influence of Lycium on these soil properties increased with shrub density. Total soil N and extractable Mg and K concentrations were 1.8, 2.6- and 6.6-fold higher under dense Lycium shrub patches compared to unvegetated, bare areas and soil pH was 0.5 units higher. In contrast, the presence of shrubs and shrub density had no clear affect on the EC, Na or CEC of the A horizon soils. The shrub effect extended to the gypsum-rich By horizon (20-50 cm depth) and underlying B horizon (30-80 cm depth) for several soil properties. Total soil C and N were 1.8- and 1.6-fold higher beneath dense Lycium patches than bare soil areas. Soil pH remained 0.4 units higher under dense Lycium than bare soil patches. In the B horizon total soil C was twice as high beneath dense Lycium patches compared to the other patch types. Lycium ruthenicum not only tolerates the saline and drought conditions, it also produces sufficient biomass to increase the nutrient and organic matter content of surface mineral soils in this arid ecosystem and may have potential to improve soil conditions, facilitate ecosystem development and slow desertification.

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    Jalali, Gholam Ali; Akbarian, Hossein; Rhoades, Charles; Yousefzadeh, Hamed. 2012. The effect of the halophytic shrub Lycium ruthenium (Mutt) on selected soil properties of a desert ecosystem in central Iran. Polish Journal of Ecology. 60(4): 845-850.


    salinity, soil chemistry, arid land rehabilitation, soil stabilization, desertification

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