Although endemic shrubs in arid and semiarid ecosystems are often in danger of extinction, they can play useful roles in maintaining or restoring an ecosystem, and practical efforts are needed to conserve them. The shrubs Amygdalus pedunculata, Amygdalus mongolica and Ammopiptanthus mongolicus are endemic species in temperate northern China. In a new study published in AoB PLANTS, Chu et al. tested the hypothesis that these endemic shrubs have developed adaptations to arid and semiarid environments and could thus be used as nurse species to initiate the process of rangeland recovery. The authors found that A. pedunculata prefers low hills and sandy land in semiarid regions, A. mongolica prefers gravel deserts in semiarid regions, and A. mongolicus prefers sandy land in arid regions. They suggest that land managers should begin using these shrub species to restore degraded rangelands as part of a general conservation effort.
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