Carbon use efficiency of terrestrial ecosystems in desert/grassland biome transition zone: A case in Ningxia province, northwest China

Lingtong Du*, Fei Gong, Yijian Zeng, Longlong Ma, Chenglong Qiao, Hongyue Wu

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)
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Terrestrial ecosystems play a critical role in the global carbon cycle and the feedbacks of carbon cycle will significantly impact future climate change. It's worth noting that semi-arid biomes in the Southern Hemisphere have driven the global carbon sink anomaly over the past 30 years. However, how does the desert/grassland biome transition zone, a part of arid and semi-arid biomes, respond to climate change and anthropogenic activities in carbon use efficiency (CUE) is still unclear. Therefore, based on the CUE of terrestrial ecosystem estimated by the moderate resolution imaging spectroradiometer (MODIS) data from 2001 to 2017, the spatial and temporal characteristics of CUE in Ningxia province, a typical desert/grassland biome transition zone, were studied. The main driving factors in climate and ecosystem were also investigated by partial correlation analysis. Results showed that the CUE of terrestrial ecosystems in desert/grassland biome transition zone is higher than 0.5, a constant value of CUE defined in many ecological models. However, the CUE varies with the ecosystem types even when they are located in the same climatic zone. There is a decreasing trend of annual CUE in the period of 2001–2017 and most of them will persistently decrease in future at pixels scales, which could be mainly caused by the land use change. Comparing the habitat conditions, we found the lower canopy density and water stress could increase the CUE in the same ecosystem, which indicates the plant could increase their efficiency of transforming carbon from the atmosphere to terrestrial biomass in adverse environment. Finally, the CUE significantly correlated to net primary productivity (NPP) and autotrophic respiration (Ra) in ecosystem processes, meanwhile water stress (lower precipitation) and heat stress (higher temperature) could increase the CUE, but the temperature has variable impacts in different ecosystem.

Original languageEnglish
Article number106971
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalEcological indicators
Early online date25 Sept 2020
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2021


  • Arid and semi-arid region
  • Carbon use efficiency (CUE)
  • Desert/grassland biome transition zone
  • Net primary productivity (NPP)
  • Terrestrial ecosystem


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