Please wait a minute...
Journal of Arid Land  2021, Vol. 13 Issue (1): 88-97    DOI: 10.1007/s40333-020-0078-6
Research article     
How precipitation and grazing influence the ecological functions of drought-prone grasslands on the northern slopes of the Tianshan Mountains, China?
HUANG Xiaotao1,2,3,4, LUO Geping3,4,*(), CHEN Chunbo3,4, PENG Jian5,*(), ZHANG Chujie5, ZHOU Huakun1,2,4, YAO Buqing1,2,4, MA Zhen1,2,4, XI Xiaoyan6
1Qinghai Provincial Key Laboratory of Restoration Ecology for Cold Regions, Northwest Institute of Plateau Biology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Xining 810008, China
2Key Laboratory of Adaptation and Evolution of Plateau Biota, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Xining 810008, China
3State Key Laboratory of Desert and Oasis Ecology, Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Urumqi 830011, China
4University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
5Xinjiang Grassland Technical Popularization Station, Urumqi 830049, China
6Qinghai Environmental Sciences Research and Design Institute Co. Ltd., Xining 810007, China
Download: HTML     PDF(654KB)
Export: BibTeX | EndNote (RIS)      

Abstract  

Drought-prone grasslands provide a critical resource for the millions of people who are dependent on livestock for food security. However, this ecosystem is potentially vulnerable to climate change (e.g., precipitation) and human activity (e.g., grazing). Despite this, the influences of precipitation and grazing on ecological functions of drought-prone grasslands in the Tianshan Mountains remain relatively unexplored. Therefore, we conducted a systematic field investigation and a clipping experiment (simulating different intensities of grazing) in a drought-prone grassland on the northern slopes of the Tianshan Mountains in China to examine the influences of precipitation and grazing on aboveground biomass (AGB), soil volumetric water content (SVWC), and precipitation use efficiency (PUE) during the period of 2014-2017. We obtained the meteorological and SVWC data using an HL20 Bowen ratio system and a PR2 soil profile hydrometer, respectively. We found that AGB was clearly affected by both the amount and seasonal pattern of precipitation, and that PUE may be relatively low in years with either low or excessive precipitation. The PUE values were generally higher in the rapid growing season (April-July) than in the entire growing season (April-October). Overall, moderate grazing can promote plant growth under water stress conditions. The SVWC value was higher in the clipped plots than in the unclipped plots in the rapid growing season (April-July), but it was lower in the clipped plots than in the unclipped plots in the slow growing season (August-October). Our findings can enhance the understanding of the ecological effects of precipitation and grazing in drought-prone grasslands and provide data that will support the effective local grassland management.



Key wordsclimate change      human activity      aboveground biomass      precipitation use efficiency      soil volumetric water content      water stress     
Received: 29 April 2019      Published: 10 January 2021
Corresponding Authors: LUO Geping,PENG Jian     E-mail: luogp@ms.xjb.ac.cn;pengjian1213@163.com
About author: PENG Jian (E-mail: pengjian1213@163.com)
*LUO Geping (E-mail: luogp@ms.xjb.ac.cn);
Cite this article:

HUANG Xiaotao, LUO Geping, CHEN Chunbo, PENG Jian, ZHANG Chujie, ZHOU Huakun, YAO Buqing, MA Zhen, XI Xiaoyan. How precipitation and grazing influence the ecological functions of drought-prone grasslands on the northern slopes of the Tianshan Mountains, China?. Journal of Arid Land, 2021, 13(1): 88-97.

URL:

http://jal.xjegi.com/10.1007/s40333-020-0078-6     OR     http://jal.xjegi.com/Y2021/V13/I1/88

Fig. 1 Location of the study site (a) and demostration of the field experiments (b and c)
Fig. 2 Experimental layout

2014 2015 2016 2017
Apr-Jul Apr-Oct Apr-Jul Apr-Oct Apr-Jul Apr-Oct Apr-Jul Apr-Oct
P (mm) 162.0 212.8 221.8 402.8 195.8 206.0 160.0 206.0
AGB (g C/m2) 114.1 132.1 118.4 151.2 216.7 241.0 118.9 119.1
PUE (g C/(m2·mm)) 0.32 0.28 0.24 0.17 0.50 0.53 0.33 0.26
Table 1 Precipitation (P), aboveground biomass (AGB), and precipitation use efficiency (PUE) in the rapid (April to July) and entire (April to October) growing seasons during the period of 2014-2017
Fig. 3 Aboveground biomass (AGB) values in plots with different stubble heights (0, 3, 5, and 8 cm, and unclipped) in the study site during the period of 2014-2017. The error bar represents the fluctuation range of the observed value.
Fig. 4 Soil volumetric water content (SVWC) values in the clipped and unclipped plots at different soil depths (0-10, 10-20, and 20-30 cm) in the study site in the entire growing season during the period of 2014-2017. The error bar represents the fluctuation range of the observed value.
[1]   Bai Y F, Wu J G, Clark C M, et al. 2012. Grazing alters ecosystem functioning and C:N:P stoichiometry of grasslands along a regional precipitation gradient. Journal of Applied Ecology, 49(6): 1204-1215.
doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2664.2012.02205.x
[2]   Derner J D, Boutton T W, Briske D D. 2006. Grazing and ecosystem carbon storage in the North American Great Plains. Plant and Soil, 280: 77-90.
doi: 10.1007/s11104-005-2554-3
[3]   Gherardi L A, Sala O E. 2019. Effect of interannual precipitation variability on dryland productivity: A global synthesis. Global Change Biology, 25(1): 269-276.
doi: 10.1111/gcb.14480 pmid: 30338886
[4]   Guo T, Weise H, Fiedler S, et al. 2018. The role of landscape heterogeneity in regulating plant functional diversity under different precipitation and grazing regimes in semi-arid savannas. Ecological Modelling, 379: 1-9.
doi: 10.1016/j.ecolmodel.2018.04.009
[5]   Heisler-White J L, Knapp A K, Kelly E F. 2008. Increasing precipitation event size increases aboveground net primary productivity in a semi-arid grassland. Oecologia, 158(1): 129-140.
doi: 10.1007/s00442-008-1116-9 pmid: 18670792
[6]   Hu Z M, Yu G R, Zhou Y L, et al. 2009. Partitioning of evapotranspiration and its controls in four grassland ecosystems: application of a two-source model. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology, 149(9): 1410-1420.
doi: 10.1016/j.agrformet.2009.03.014
[7]   Huang X T, Luo G P, He H L, et al. 2017a. Ecological effects of grazing in the northern Tianshan Mountains. Water, 9(12): 932, doi: 10.3390/w9120932.
doi: 10.3390/w9120932
[8]   Huang X T, Luo G P, Wang X X. 2017b. Land-atmosphere exchange of water and heat in the arid mountainous grasslands of Central Asia during the growing season. Water, 9(10): 727, doi: 10.3390/w9100727.
doi: 10.3390/w9100727
[9]   Huang X T, Luo G P, Han Q F. 2018. Temporospatial patterns of human appropriation of net primary production in Central Asia grasslands. Ecological Indicators, 91: 555-561.
doi: 10.1016/j.ecolind.2018.04.045
[10]   Huang Z, Miao H T, Liu Y, et al. 2018. Soil water content and temporal stability in an arid area with natural and planted grasslands. Hydrological Processes, 32(25): 3784-3792.
doi: 10.1002/hyp.v32.25
[11]   Jiang Y B, Zhang Y J, Zhu J T, et al. 2017. Effects of community structure on precipitation-use efficiency of grasslands in northern Tibet. Journal of Vegetation Science, 28(2): 281-290.
doi: 10.1111/jvs.2017.28.issue-2
[12]   Leroy G, Hoffmann I, From T, et al. 2018. Perception of livestock ecosystem services in grazing areas. Animal, 12(12): 2627-2638.
doi: 10.1017/S1751731118001027 pmid: 29757124
[13]   Liu H, Zang R, Chen H Y H. 2016. Effects of grazing on photosynthetic features and soil respiration of rangelands in the Tianshan Mountains of Northwest China. Scientific Reports, 6: 30087, doi: 10.1038/srep30087.
doi: 10.1038/srep30087 pmid: 27452980
[14]   Luo G P, Han Q F, Zhou D C, et al. 2012. Moderate grazing can promote aboveground primary production of grassland under water stress. Ecological Complexity, 11: 126-136.
doi: 10.1016/j.ecocom.2012.04.004
[15]   Marshall M, Tu K, Brown J. 2018. Optimizing a remote sensing production efficiency model for macro-scale GPP and yield estimation in agroecosystems. Remote Sensing of Environment, 217: 258-271.
doi: 10.1016/j.rse.2018.08.001
[16]   Martínez-García E, Rubio E, García-Morote F A, et al. 2017. Net ecosystem production in a Spanish black pine forest after a low burn-severity fire: Significance of different modelling approaches for estimating gross primary production. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology, 246: 178-193.
[17]   Milchunas D G, Lauenroth W K. 1993. Quantitative effects of grazing on vegetation and soils over a global range of environments. Ecological Monographs, 63(4): 327-366.
[18]   Ming G H, Hu H C, Tian F Q, et al. 2018. Precipitation alters plastic film mulching impacts on soil respiration in an arid area of Northwest China. Hydrology and Earth System Sciences, 22(5): 3075-3086.
[19]   Moreno-de las Heras M, Bochet E, Monleón V, et al. 2018. Aridity induces nonlinear effects of human disturbance on precipitation-use efficiency of Iberian woodlands. Ecosystems, 21: 1295-1305.
[20]   Mueller K E, Blumenthal D M, Pendall E, et al. 2016. Impacts of warming and elevated CO2 on a semi-arid grassland are non-additive, shift with precipitation, and reverse over time. Ecology Letters, 19(8): 956-966.
pmid: 27339693
[21]   Ojeda J J, Caviglia O P, Irisarri J G N, et al. 2018. Modelling inter-annual variation in dry matter yield and precipitation use efficiency of perennial pastures and annual forage crops sequences. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology, 259: 1-10.
[22]   Paruelo J M, Lauenroth W K, Burke I C, et al. 1999. Grassland precipitation-use efficiency varies across a resource gradient. Ecosystems, 2: 64-68.
[23]   Peng S S, Piao S L, Shen Z H, et al. 2013. Precipitation amount, seasonality and frequency regulate carbon cycling of a semi-arid grassland ecosystem in Inner Mongolia, China: A modeling analysis. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology, 178-179: 46-55.
[24]   Pickering C M, Growcock A J. 2009. Impacts of experimental trampling on tall alpine herbfields and subalpine grasslands in the Australian Alps. Journal of Environmental Management, 91(2): 532-540.
doi: 10.1016/j.jenvman.2009.09.022 pmid: 19854561
[25]   Ren H R, Zhou G S, Zhang F. 2018. Using negative soil adjustment factor in soil-adjusted vegetation index (SAVI) for aboveground living biomass estimation in arid grasslands. Remote Sensing of Environment, 209: 439-445.
[26]   Ren H Y, Eviner V T, Gui W Y, et al. 2018. Livestock grazing regulates ecosystem multifunctionality in semi-arid grassland. Functional Ecology, 32(12): 2790-2800.
[27]   Ren W B, Hu N N, Hou X Y, et al. 2017. Long-term overgrazing-induced memory decreases photosynthesis of clonal offspring in a perennial grassland plant. Frontiers in Plant Science, 8: 419, doi: 10.3389/fpls.2017.00419.
doi: 10.3389/fpls.2017.00419 pmid: 28484469
[28]   Shi G X, Yao B Q, Liu Y J, et al. 2017. The phylogenetic structure of AMF communities shifts in response to gradient warming with and without winter grazing on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. Applied Soil Ecology, 121: 31-40.
[29]   Striker G G, Mollard F P O, Grimoldi A A, et al. 2011. Trampling enhances the dominance of graminoids over forbs in flooded grassland mesocosms. Applied Vegetation Science, 14(1): 95-106.
[30]   Stuart-Haëntjens E, de Boeck H J, Lemoine N P, et al. 2018. Mean annual precipitation predicts primary production resistance and resilience to extreme drought. Science of the Total Environment, 636: 360-366.
[31]   Sun J, Du W P. 2017. Effects of precipitation and temperature on net primary productivity and precipitation use efficiency across China’s grasslands. GIScience & Remote Sensing, 54(6): 881-897.
[32]   White S R, Bork E W, Cahill Jr. J F. 2014. Direct and indirect drivers of plant diversity responses to climate and clipping across northern temperate grassland. Ecology, 95(11): 3093-3103.
doi: 10.1890/14-0144.1
[33]   Wittmer M H O M, Auerswald K, Schönbach P, et al. 2010. Do grazer hair and faeces reflect the carbon isotope composition of semi-arid C3/C4 grassland? Basic and Applied Ecology, 11(1): 83-92.
doi: 10.1016/j.baae.2009.10.007
[34]   Xu M, Wu H, Kang S C. 2018. Impacts of climate change on the discharge and glacier mass balance of the different glacierized watersheds in the Tianshan Mountains, Central Asia. Hydrological Processes, 32(1): 126-145.
[35]   Xu X, Sherry R A, Niu S L, et al. 2013. Net primary productivity and rain-use efficiency as affected by warming, altered precipitation, and clipping in a mixed-grass prairie. Global Change Biology, 19(9): 2753-2764.
pmid: 23649795
[36]   Yang S L, Hao Q, Liu H Y, et al. 2019. Impact of grassland degradation on the distribution and bioavailability of soil silicon: Implications for the Si cycle in grasslands. Science of the Total Environment, 657: 811-818.
[37]   Zhang D B, Yao P W, Na Z, et al. 2016. Soil water balance and water use efficiency of dryland wheat in different precipitation years in response to green manure approach. Scientific Reports, 6: 26856, doi: 10.1038/srep26856.
doi: 10.1038/srep26856 pmid: 27225842
[38]   Zhang G L, Biradar C M, Xiao X M, et al. 2018. Exacerbated grassland degradation and desertification in Central Asia during 2000-2014. Ecological Applications, 28(2): 442-456.
doi: 10.1002/eap.1660 pmid: 29205627
[39]   Zhang H F, Sun Y, Chang L, et al. 2018. Estimation of grassland canopy height and aboveground biomass at the quadrat scale using unmanned aerial vehicle. Remote Sensing, 10(6): 851, doi: 10.3390/rs10060851.
[40]   Zhang R P, Liang T G, Guo J, et al. 2018. Grassland dynamics in response to climate change and human activities in Xinjiang from 2000 to 2014. Scientific Reports, 8: 2888, doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-21089-3.
doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-21089-3 pmid: 29440664
[41]   Zhou G Y, Luo Q, Chen Y J, et al. 2018. Effects of livestock grazing on grassland carbon storage and release override impacts associated with global climate change. Global Change Biology, 25(3): 1119-1132.
doi: 10.1111/gcb.14533 pmid: 30466147
[1] BAI Jie, LI Junli, BAO Anmin, CHANG Cun. Spatial-temporal variations of ecological vulnerability in the Tarim River Basin, Northwest China[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2021, 13(8): 814-834.
[2] WU Jun, DENG Guoning, ZHOU Dongmei, ZHU Xiaoyan, MA Jing, CEN Guozhang, JIN Yinli, ZHANG Jun. Effects of climate change and land-use changes on spatiotemporal distributions of blue water and green water in Ningxia, Northwest China[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2021, 13(7): 674-687.
[3] DING Wenli, XU Weizhou, GAO Zhijuan, XU Bingcheng. Effects of water and nitrogen on growth and relative competitive ability of introduced versus native C4 grass species in the semi-arid Loess Plateau of China[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2021, 13(7): 730-743.
[4] WANG Yuejian, GU Xinchen, YANG Guang, YAO Junqiang, LIAO Na. Impacts of climate change and human activities on water resources in the Ebinur Lake Basin, Northwest China[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2021, 13(6): 581-598.
[5] SA Chula, MENG Fanhao, LUO Min, LI Chenhao, WANG Mulan, ADIYA Saruulzaya, BAO Yuhai. Spatiotemporal variation in snow cover and its effects on grassland phenology on the Mongolian Plateau[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2021, 13(4): 332-349.
[6] Ayad M F AL-QURAISHI, Heman A GAZNAYEE, Mattia CRESPI. Drought trend analysis in a semi-arid area of Iraq based on Normalized Difference Vegetation Index, Normalized Difference Water Index and Standardized Precipitation Index[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2021, 13(4): 413-430.
[7] Adilov BEKZOD, Shomurodov HABIBULLO, FAN Lianlian, LI Kaihui, MA Xuexi, LI Yaoming. Transformation of vegetative cover on the Ustyurt Plateau of Central Asia as a consequence of the Aral Sea shrinkage[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2021, 13(1): 71-87.
[8] Farzaneh KHAJOEI NASAB, Ahmadreza MEHRABIAN, Hossein MOSTAFAVI. Mapping the current and future distributions of Onosma species endemic to Iran[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2020, 12(6): 1031-1045.
[9] Mahsa MIRDASHTVAN, Mohsen MOHSENI SARAVI. Influence of non-stationarity and auto-correlation of climatic records on spatio-temporal trend and seasonality analysis in a region with prevailing arid and semi-arid climate, Iran[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2020, 12(6): 964-983.
[10] XU Bo, HUGJILTU Minggagud, BAOYIN Taogetao, ZHONG Yankai, BAO Qinghai, ZHOU Yanlin, LIU Zhiying. Rapid loss of leguminous species in the semi-arid grasslands of northern China under climate change and mowing from 1982 to 2011[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2020, 12(5): 752-765.
[11] FENG Jian, ZHAO Lingdi, ZHANG Yibo, SUN Lingxiao, YU Xiang, YU Yang. Can climate change influence agricultural GTFP in arid and semi-arid regions of Northwest China?[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2020, 12(5): 837-853.
[12] ZHOU Zuhao, HAN Ning, LIU Jiajia, YAN Ziqi, XU Chongyu, CAI Jingya, SHANG Yizi, ZHU Jiasong. Glacier variations and their response to climate change in an arid inland river basin of Northwest China[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2020, 12(3): 357-373.
[13] LI Xuemei, Slobodan P SIMONOVIC, LI Lanhai, ZHANG Xueting, QIN Qirui. Performance and uncertainty analysis of a short-term climate reconstruction based on multi-source data in the Tianshan Mountains region, China[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2020, 12(3): 374-396.
[14] BAI Haihua, YIN Yanting, Jane ADDISON, HOU Yulu, WANG Linhe, HOU Xiangyang. Market opportunities do not explain the ability of herders to meet livelihood objectives over winter on the Mongolian Plateau[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2020, 12(3): 522-537.
[15] WEN Jing, QIN Ruimin, ZHANG Shixiong, YANG Xiaoyan, XU Manhou. Effects of long-term warming on the aboveground biomass and species diversity in an alpine meadow on the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau of China[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2020, 12(2): 252-266.