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Concept: Deserts


Little is known about the peopling of the Sahara during the Holocene climatic optimum, when the desert was replaced by a fertile environment.

Concepts: Holocene, Desertification, Deserts


To investigate the relationship between desiccation and the extent of protein oxidation in desert strains of Chroococcidiopsis a selection of 10 isolates from hot and cold deserts and the terrestrial cyanobacterium Chroococcidiopsis thermalis sp. PCC 7203 were exposed to desiccation (air-drying) and analyzed for survival. Strain CCMEE 029 from the Negev desert and the aquatic cyanobacterium Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803 were further investigated for protein oxidation after desiccation (drying over silica gel), treatment with H2O2 up to 1 M and exposure to γ-rays up to 25 kGy. Then a selection of desert strains of Chroococcidiopsis with different survival rates after prolonged desiccation, as well as Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803 and Chroococcidiopsis thermalis sp. PCC 7203, were analyzed for protein oxidation after treatment with 10 and 100 mM of H2O2. Results suggest that in the investigated strains a tight correlation occurs between desiccation and radiation tolerance and avoidance of protein oxidation.

Concepts: Earth, Synechocystis, Desert, Deserts


Rainfall events can be characterized as “pulses”, which are discrete and variable episodes that can significantly influence the structure and function of desert ecosystems, including shifts in aboveground net primary productivity (ANPP). To determine the threshold and hierarchical response of rainfall event size on the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI, a proxy for ANPP) and the difference across a desert area in northwestern China with two habitats - dune and desert - we selected 17 independent summer rainfall events from 2005 to 2012, and obtained a corresponding NDVI dataset extracted from MODIS images. Based on the threshold-delay model and statistical analysis, the results showed that the response of NDVI to rainfall pulses began at about a 5 mm event size. Furthermore, when the rainfall event size was more than 30 mm, NDVI rapidly increased 3- to 6-fold compared with the response to events of less than 30 mm, suggesting that 30 mm was the threshold for a large NDVI response. These results revealed the importance of the 5 mm and 30 mm rainfall events for plant survival and growth in desert regions. There was an 8- to 16-day lag time between the rainfall event and the NDVI response, and the response duration varied with rainfall event size, reaching a maximum of 32 days. Due to differences in soil physical and mineralogical properties, and to biodiversity structure and the root systems' abilities to exploit moisture, dune and desert areas differed in precipitation responses: dune habitats were characterized by a single, late summer productivity peak; in contrast, deserts showed a multi-peak pattern throughout the growing season.

Concepts: Precipitation, Rain, Desert, Rain shadow, Ecosystems, Desertification, Deserts, Sediment precipitation