River flow is critical for vegetation dynamics: Lessons from multi-scale analysis in a hyper-arid endorheic basin

Qin Shen, Guangyao Gao, Yihe Lü, Shuai Wang, Xiaohui Jiang, Bojie Fu
2017 Science of the Total Environment  
Editor: Elena PAOLETTI Knowledge of the spatio-temporal responses of vegetation dynamics to hydro-climatic factors is important to assess ecological restoration efforts in arid and semiarid areas. In this study, the vegetation dynamics during 2000-2015 were investigated in the downstream area of the Heihe River Basin (HRB) in Northwest China where an ecological water diversion project (EWDP) commenced in 2000. The spatio-temporal relationships between vegetation cover and climatic factors
more » ... pitation and temperature) and available water resources (river flow and groundwater) were determined. The results indicated that the mean growing season NDVI increased significantly during the period of 2000-2015, and the area of East Juyan Lake (EJL) enlarged to 36.4 km 2 in 2010. The scale effect of the relationships between NDVI and hydro-climatic factors was obvious. At the catchment scale, changes of NDVI were not significantly correlated with climatic factors, but significantly related with the antecedent 1year river flow. River flow played an important role in vegetation growth within approximately 2000 m distance from the river bank. At the pixel scale, the changes of NDVI were significantly positive with temperature and river flow in 17.40% and 7.14% of the study area, respectively, whereas significant relationship between NDVI and precipitation occurred in only 0.65% of study area. The suitable water table depth for vegetation growth was between 1.8 and 3.5 m. The increased river flow and recovered groundwater due to the EWDP were critical for the improvement of vegetation cover, whereas the riparian vegetation degraded along some parts of the river bank. It is important to improve integrated watershed management with consideration of spatio-temporal lagged hydro-ecological connections in the study area.
doi:10.1016/j.scitotenv.2017.06.087 pmid:28628820 fatcat:a2bwnlgbhrc5fntvi45rfkoxrq