Biodiv Sci ›› 2023, Vol. 31 ›› Issue (8): 23169.  DOI: 10.17520/biods.2023169

• Original Papers: Plant Diversity • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Relationship between herbaceous plant diversity and soil anti-scourability under different maintenance measures at Sanxingdui City Wall

Xinyi Zhong1, Fan Zhao3, Xue Yao4, Yuru Wu1, Yin Xu1, Shunyao Yu1, Jingyun Lin1, Jianfeng Hao1,2,*()   

  1. 1. College of Forestry, Sichuan Agricultural University, Chengdu 611130
    2. Key Laboratory of Soil and Water Conservation and Desertification Control, Sichuan Agricultural University, Chengdu 611130
    3. Cultural Relics and Archaeology Institute of Sichuan, Chengdu 610041
    4. Department of Tourism and History Cultural, Southwest Minzu University, Chengdu 610041
  • Received:2023-05-26 Accepted:2023-07-19 Online:2023-08-20 Published:2023-09-05
  • Contact: *E-mail:


Aims: The City Wall of Sanxingdui is a historical site of great significance to the exploration of the origins of Chinese civilization. It is important to study the relationships between herbaceous plant species diversity, root system and soil anti-scourability under different maintenance measures to protect this valuable cultural site from erosion damage and harness the water and soil conservation functions of native vegetation.
Methods: In this study, we conducted a field survey focusing on five typical herbaceous plant communities associated with five common maintenance measures at Sanxingdui City Wall: natural regeneration, planting, abandoned field, shrub removal, and pruning. We investigated the species diversity, root characteristics, soil anti-scourability and their correlation.
Results: A total of 103 species of herbaceous plants belonging to 40 families and 81 genera were recorded in the study area, with Asteraceae and Gramineae being dominant families, and the majority of species being perennial herbs. Species diversity was highest in the shrub removal plots, followed by the natural regeneration plots, and then the pruning and planting plots, while the abandoned field plots had a significantly lower level of species diversity than the other types of plots (P < 0.05). The soil anti-scourability coefficients of the shrub removal and natural regeneration plots (138.86 L/g and 118.31 L/g) were not significantly different (P > 0.05), but both were significantly higher (P < 0.05) than the other types of plots. Root characteristics demonstrated a more robust root network in shrub removal plots, with significantly higher values of root surface area density, root volume density and average root diameter than other types of plots (P < 0.05). The four diversity indices (Shannon-Wiener diversity index, Simpson dominance index, species richness index, Pielou evenness index), root length density, average root diameter and number of root branches were very significantly positively correlated with the soil anti-scourability coefficient (P < 0.01). Root surface area density and root volume density were also significantly positively correlated with soil anti-scourability coefficient (P < 0.05).
Conclusions: In summary, the shrub removal and natural regeneration plots demonstrated higher herb diversity indices, denser root networks and greater soil anti-scourability coefficients. Considering the vegetation characteristics of the city walls and the importance of preserving this unique cultural heritage site, we recommend implementing in situ habitat protection measures with a focus on natural regeneration, supplemented by scientifically informed active maintenance measures such as shrub removal and pruning when necessary. This strategy holds promise to effectively enhance species diversity and soil anti-scourability, and promote sustainable development and historical preservation of the walled vegetation of the Sanxingdui site.

Key words: Sanxingdui City Wall, in situ conservation, species diversity, root system, soil anti-scourability, herbaceous plant communities