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Journal of Arid Land  2016, Vol. 8 Issue (6): 899-909    DOI: 10.1007/s40333-016-0005-z
Research Articles     
Long-term effects of mowing on plasticity and allometry of Leymus chinensis in a temperate semi-arid grassland, China
LI Xiliang1, HOU Xiangyang1*, REN Weibo1, Taogetao BAOYIN2*, LIU Zhiying2, Warwick BADGERY3, LI Yaqiong2, WU Xinhong1, XU Huimin2
1 National Forage Improvement Center, Key Laboratory of Grassland Resources and Utilization of Ministry of Agriculture, Institute of Grassland Research, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Hohhot 010010, China;
2 Ecology, College of Life Sciences, Inner Mongolia University, Hohhot 010021, China;
3 New South Wales Department of Primary Industries, Orange Agricultural Institute, Orange, New South Wales 2800, Australia
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Abstract  Mowing is an important land management practice for natural semi-arid regions. A growing body of empirical evidence shows that different mowing regimes affect the functioning of grassland ecosystems. However, the responses of plant functional traits to long-term mowing and their allometric scaling under long-term mowing are poorly understood. For a better understanding of the effects of mowing on grassland ecosystems, we analyzed the allometric traits of leaves and stems of Leymus chinensis (Trin.) Tzvel., a dominant grass species in eastern Eurasian temperate grassland, at different mowing intensities (no clipping, clipping once every two years, once a year and twice a year). Experiments were conducted on plots established over a decade ago in a typical steppe of Xilinhot, Inner Mongolia, China. Results showed that most of the functional traits of L. chinensis decreased with the increased mowing intensity. The responses of leaves and stems to long-term mowing were asymmetric, in which leaf traits were more stable than stem traits. Also significant allometric relationships were found among most of the plant functional traits under the four mowing treatments. Sensitive traits of L. chinensis (e.g. leaf length and stem length) were primary indicators associated with aboveground biomass decline under high mowing intensity. In conclusion, the allometric growth of different functional traits of L. chinensis varies with different long-term mowing practices, which is likely to be a strategy used by the plant to adapt to the mowing disturbances.

Key wordsprecipitation pattern      restoration      soil water dynamics      soil desiccation      vegetation type     
Received: 06 December 2015      Published: 01 December 2016

This study was ?nancially supported by the National Basic Research Program of China (2014CB138806), the Natural Science Fund Project of Inner Mongolia (2015ZD02), the International Science and Technology Cooperation Program of China (2013DFR30760), the National Scientific and Technical Support Program of China (2012BAD12B02) and the Special Fund for Agro-scientific Research in the Public Interest (201303060).

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LI Xiliang, HOU Xiangyang, REN Weibo, Taogetao BAOYIN, LIU Zhiying, Warwick BADGERY, LI Yaqiong, WU Xinhong, XU Huimin. Long-term effects of mowing on plasticity and allometry of Leymus chinensis in a temperate semi-arid grassland, China. Journal of Arid Land, 2016, 8(6): 899-909.

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