Please wait a minute...
Journal of Arid Land  2018, Vol. 10 Issue (4): 588-600    DOI: 10.1007/s40333-018-0093-z
Orginal Article     
Effects of grazing on net primary productivity, evapotranspiration and water use efficiency in the grasslands of Xinjiang, China
Xiaotao HUANG1,2, Geping LUO1,*(), Feipeng YE3, Qifei HAN4
1State Key Laboratory of Desert and Oasis Ecology, Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Urumqi 830011, China
2University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
3College of Resource and Environment Sciences, Xinjiang University, Urumqi 830046, China
4Nanjing University of Information Science & Technology, Nanjing 210044, China
Download: HTML     PDF(460KB)
Export: BibTeX | EndNote (RIS)      


Grazing is a main human activity in the grasslands of Xinjiang, China. It is vital to identify the effects of grazing on the sustainable utilization of local grasslands. However, the effects of grazing on net primary productivity (NPP), evapotranspiration (ET)and water use efficiency (WUE) in this region remain unclear. Using the spatial Biome-BGC grazing model, we explored the effects of grazing on NPP, ET and WUE across the different regions and grassland types in Xinjiang during 1979-2012. NPP, ET and WUEunder the grazed scenario were generally lower than those under the ungrazed scenario, and the differences showed increasing trends over time.The decreases in NPP, ET and WUE varied significantly among the regions and grassland types. NPP decreasedas follows: among the regions, Northern Xinjiang(16.60 g C/(m2?a)), Tianshan Mountains (15.94g C/(m2?a)) and Southern Xinjiang (-3.54g C/(m2?a)); andamong the grassland types, typical grasslands (25.70g C/(m2?a)), swamp meadows (25.26g C/(m2?a)),mid-mountain meadows (23.39 g C/(m2?a)), alpine meadows (6.33g C/(m2?a)), desert grasslands (5.82g C/(m2?a)) and saline meadows(2.90g C/(m2?a)). ET decreasedas follows: among the regions, Tianshan Mountains (28.95 mm/a), Northern Xinjiang (8.11mm/a) and Southern Xinjiang (7.57 mm/a);and among thegrassland types, mid-mountain meadows (29.30 mm/a), swamp meadows (25.07mm/a), typical grasslands (24.56mm/a), alpine meadows (20.69mm/a), desert grasslands (11.06mm/a) and saline meadows (3.44mm/a). WUE decreasedas follows: among the regions,Northern Xinjiang (0.053g C/kg H2O), Tianshan Mountains (0.034 g C/kg H2O) and Southern Xinjiang (0.012 g C/kg H2O);and among the grassland types, typical grasslands (0.0609 g C/kg H2O), swamp meadows (0.0548 g C/kg H2O), mid-mountain meadows (0.0501 g C/kg H2O), desert grasslands (0.0172 g C/kg H2O), alpine meadows (0.0121 g C/kg H2O) and saline meadows (0.0067 g C/kg H2O). In general, the decreases in NPP and WUE weremore significant in the regions with relatively high levels of vegetation growth because of the high grazing intensity in these regions. The decreases in ET weresignificant in mountainous areas due to theterrain and high grazing intensity.

Key wordsgrazing effect      grassland type      net primary productivity      evapotranspiration      water use efficiency      Biome-BGC grazing model     
Received: 23 June 2017      Published: 10 August 2018
Corresponding Authors: Geping LUO     E-mail:
Cite this article:

Xiaotao HUANG, Geping LUO, Feipeng YE, Qifei HAN. Effects of grazing on net primary productivity, evapotranspiration and water use efficiency in the grasslands of Xinjiang, China. Journal of Arid Land, 2018, 10(4): 588-600.

URL:     OR

[1] Banks T, Doman S.2001. Kazakh nomads, rangeland policy and the environment in Altay: insights from new range ecology.In: theSecond International Convention of Asia Scholars.Berlin: Free University. [2001-08-12].
[2] Bell L W, Kirkegaard J A, Swan A, et al.2011. Impacts of soil damage by grazing livestock on crop productivity. Soil and Tillage Research, 113(1): 19-29.
[3] Bond-Lamberty B, Gower S T, Ahl D E, et al.2005. Reimplementationofthebiome-BGCmodel to simulate successional change. Tree Physiology, 25(4): 413-424.
[4] Chen Y X, Lee G, Lee P, et al.2007. Model analysis of grazing effect on above-ground biomass and above-ground net primary production of a Mongolian grassland ecosystem. Journal of Hydrology, 333(1): 155-164.
[5] Dong S K, Kang M Y, Hu Z Z, et al.2004a. Performance of cultivated perennial grass mixtures under different grazing intensities in the alpine region of the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau. Grass and Forage Science, 59(3): 298-306.
[6] Dong S K, Jiang Y, Wei M J, et al.2004b. Effects of nitrogen application rate on soil and plant characteristics in pastures of perennial grass mixturesin the alpine region of the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau, China. Australian Journal of Soil Research, 42(7): 727-735.
[7] Du J Q, Jiaerheng A, Zhao C X, et al.2015. Dynamic changes in vegetation NDVI from 1982 to 2012 and its responses to climate change and human activities in Xinjiang, China. Chinese Journal of Applied Ecology, 26(12): 3567-3578. (in Chinese)
[8] Dugdale R C, Wilkerson F P, Parker A E.2016. The effect of clam grazing on phytoplankton spring blooms in the low-salinity zone of the San Francisco Estuary: a modelling approach. Ecological Modelling, 340: 1-16.
[9] Eldridge D J, Poore A G B, Ruiz-Colmenero M, et al.2016. Ecosystem structure, function, and composition in rangelands are negatively affected by livestock grazing. Ecological Applications, 26(4): 1273-1283.
[10] FAO/IIASA/ISRIC/ISS-CAS/JRC, 2012. Harmonized World Soil Database (version 1.2).FAO and IIASA, Rome, Italy and Laxenburg, Austria.
[11] Gu A X, Fan Y M, Wu H Q, et al.2010. Relationship between the number of three main microorganisms and the soil environment of degraded grassland on the north slope of the Tianshan Mountains. Acta Prataculturae Sinica, 19(2): 116-123. (in Chinese)
[12] Guo S H, Yang G J, Li Q F, et al.2015. Observation and estimation of the evapotranspiration of alpine meadow in the upper reaches of the Aksu River, Xinjiang. Journal of Glaciology and Geocryology, 37(1): 241-248. (in Chinese)
[13] Guo T, Lohmann D, Ratzmann G, et al.2016. Response of semi-arid savanna vegetation composition towards grazing along a precipitation gradient—The effect of including plant heterogeneity into an ecohydrological savanna model. Ecological Modelling, 325: 47-56.
[14] Han Q F, Luo G P, Li C F, et al.2013. Modeling grassland net primary productivity and water-use efficiency along an elevational gradient of the Northern Tianshan Mountains. Journal of Arid Land, 5(3): 354-365.
[15] Han Q F, Luo G P, Li C F, et al.2014. Modeling the grazing effect on dry grassland carbon cycling with Biome-BGC model. Ecological Complexity, 17: 149-157.
[16] Han Q F, Luo G P, Li C F, et al.2016. Simulated grazing effects on carbon emission in Central Asia. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology, 216: 203-214.
[17] Hijmans R J, Cameron S E, Parra J L, et al.2005. Very high resolution interpolated climate surfaces for global land areas. International Journal of Climatology, 25(15): 1965-1978.
[18] Huang X T, Luo G P, Lv N N.2017. Spatio-temporal patterns of grassland evapotranspiration and water use efficiency in arid areas. Ecological Research, 32(4): 523-535.
[19] Irisarri J G N, Derner J D, Porensky L M, et al.2016. Grazing intensity differentially regulates ANPP response to precipitation in North American semiarid grasslands. Ecological Applications, 26(5): 1370-1380.
[20] Jiapaer G, Liang S L, Yi Q X, et al.2015. Vegetation dynamics and responses to recent climate change in Xinjiang using leaf area index as an indicator. Ecological Indicators, 58: 64-76.
[21] Jin J X.2012. Xinjiang Statistical Yearbook. Beijing: China Statistics Press, 401-460. (in Chinese)
[22] Jung M, Vetter M, Herold M, et al.2007. Uncertainties of modeling gross primary productivity over Europe: a systematic study on the effects of using different drivers and terrestrial biosphere models. Global Biogeochemical Cycles, 21(4): GB4021.
[23] Kerven C, Steimann B, Ashley L, et al.2011. Pastoralism and Farming in Central Asia's Mountains: A Research Review. Bishkek: University of Central Asia.
[24] Laniak G F, Olchin G, Goodall J, et al.2013. Integrated environmental modeling: a vision and roadmap for the future. Environmental Modelling & Software, 39: 3-23.
[25] Leitinger G, Tasser E, Newesely C, et al.2010. Seasonal dynamics of surface runoff in mountain grassland ecosystems differing in land use. Journal of Hydrology, 385(1-4): 95-104.
[26] Li X Y, Wang Y G, Liu L J, et al.2013. Effect of land use history and pattern on soil carbon storage in arid region of central Asia. PLoS ONE, 8(7): e68372.
[27] Liu H, Zang R G, 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.
[28] Liu L X, Zhao X Y, Chang X L, et al.2016. Impact of precipitation fluctuation on desert-grassland ANPP. Sustainability, 8(12): 1245.
[29] Liu W B, Wang L, Zhou J, et al.2016. A worldwide evaluation of basin-scale evapotranspiration estimates against the water balance method. Journal of Hydrology, 538: 82-95.
[30] Long T, Xiong H G, Zhang J B, et al.2010. Experimental study on grassland soil evaporation with different rainfall intensity. Journal of Soil and Water Conservation, 24(6): 240-245. (in Chinese)
[31] 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.
[32] Mikola J, Setälä H, Virkajärvi P, et al.2009. Defoliation and patchy nutrient return drive grazing effects on plant and soil properties in a dairy cow pasture. Ecological Monographs, 79(2): 221-244.
[33] Neff J C, Reynolds R L, Belnap J, et al.2005. Multi-decadal impacts of grazing on soil physical and biogeochemical properties in southeast Utah. Ecological Applications, 15(1): 87-95.
[34] Nilsson P, Tuomi J, Astrom M.1996. Even repeated grazing may select for overcompensation. Ecology, 77(6): 1942-1946.
[35] Niu S L, Xing X R, Zhang Z, et al.2011. Water-use efficiency in response to climate change: from leaf to ecosystem in a temperate steppe. Global Change Biology, 17(2): 1073-1082.
[36] Olejniczak P.2011. Overcompensation in response to simulated herbivory in the perennial herb Sedum maximum. Plant Ecology, 212(11): 1927-1935.
[37] Orr R J, Murray P J, Eyles C J, et al.2016. The North Wyke Farm Platform: effect of temperate grassland farming systems on soil moisture contents, runoff and associated water quality dynamics. European Journal of Soil Science, 67(4): 374-385.
[38] Paige K N.1992. Overcompensation in response to mammalian herbivory: from mutulastic to antagonistic interactions. Ecology, 73(6): 2076-2085.
[39] Rong Y P, Yuan F, Ma L.2014. Effectiveness of exclosures for restoring soils and vegetation degraded by overgrazing in the Junggar Basin, China. Grassland Science, 60(2): 118-124.
[40] Rótolo G C, Rydberg T, Lieblein G, et al.2007. Emergy evaluation of grazing cattle in Argentina's Pampas. Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment, 119(3-4): 383-395.
[41] Running S W, Coughlan J C.1988. A generalmodel of forest ecosystem processes for regional applications I. Hydrologic balance, canopy gasexchange and primary production processes. Ecological Modelling, 42(2): 125-154.
[42] Seligman N G, Cavagnaro J B, Horno M E.1992. Simulation of defoliation effects on primary production of a warm-season, semiarid perennial-species grassland. Ecological Modelling, 60(1): 45-61.
[43] Su R N, Cheng J H, Chen D M, et al.2017. Effects of grazing on spatiotemporal variations in community structure and ecosystem function on the grasslands of Inner Mongolia, China. Scientific Reports, 7(1): 40.
[44] Teague W R, Dowhower S L, Baker S A, et al.2011. Grazing management impacts on vegetation, soil biota and soil chemical, physical and hydrological properties in tall grass prairie. Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment, 141(3-4): 310-322.
[45] Verón S R, Paruelo J M, Oesterheld M.2011. Grazing-induced losses of biodiversity affect the transpiration of an arid ecosystem. Oecologia, 165(2): 501-510.
[46] Wang K B, Deng L, Ren Z P, et al.2016a. Grazing exclusion significantly improves grassland ecosystem C and N pools in a desert steppe of Northwest China. Catena, 137: 441-448.
[47] Wang L, Liu H Z, Bernhofer C.2016b. Grazing intensity effects on the partitioning of evapotranspiration in the semiarid typical steppe ecosystems in Inner Mongolia. International Journal of Climatology, 36(12): 4130-4140.
[48] Wang Q X, Watanabe M, Ouyang Z.2005. Simulation of water and carbon fluxes using BIOME-BGC model over crops in China. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology, 131(3-4): 209-224.
[49] Wang Z, Deng X Z, Song W, et al.2017. What is the main cause of grassland degradation? A case study of grassland ecosystem service in the middle-south Inner Mongolia. Catena, 150: 100-107.
[50] Xie L N, Chen W Z, Gabler C A, et al.2016. Effects of grazing intensity on seed production of Caragana stenophylla along a climatic aridity gradient in the Inner Mongolia Steppe, China. Journal of Arid Land, 8(6): 890-898.
[51] Xu B, Yang X C, Jin Y X, et al.2012. Monitoring and evaluation of grassland-livestock balance in pastoral and semi-pastoral counties of China. Geographical Research, 31(11): 1998-2006. (in Chinese)
[52] Yan R H, Xiong H G, Feng Z H, et al.2013. Relationship between evapotranspiration and multi-environmental factors of Achnatherum splendens grassland’s SPAC system in oasis-desert Ecotone. Arid LandGeography, 36(5): 889-896. (in Chinese)
[53] Yan R H, Xiong H G, Chen X F.2015. Characteristics of land surface energy over: Achnatherum splendens grassland in the oasis-desert ecotone of Northern Piedmont of Tianshan Mountains. Acta Ecologica Sinica, 35(5): 1350-1358. (in Chinese)
[54] Zhang J H, Huang Y M, Chen H Y, et al.2016. Effects of grassland management on the community structure, aboveground biomass and stability of a temperate steppe in Inner Mongolia, China. Journal of Arid Land, 8(3): 422-433.
[55] Zhang Y, Gao Q Z, Dong S K, et al.2015. Effects of grazing and climate warming on plant diversity, productivity and living state in the alpine rangelands and cultivated grasslands of the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau. The Rangeland Journal, 37(1): 57-65.
[56] Zhao L W, Zhao W Z.2014. Evapotranspiration of an oasis-desert transition zone in the middle stream of Heihe River, Northwest China. Journal of Arid Land, 6(5): 529-539.
[57] Zhao W Y, Li J L, Qi J G.2007. Changes in vegetation diversity and structure in response to heavy grazing pressure in the Northern Tianshan Mountains, China. Journal of Arid Environments, 68(3): 465-479.
[58] Zuo X A, Wang S K, Zhao X Y, et al.2012. Effect of spatial scale and topography on spatial heterogeneity of soil seed banks under grazing disturbance in a sandy grassland of Horqin Sand Land, Northern China. Journal of Arid Land, 4(2): 151-160.
[1] Brian COLLINS, Hadi RAMEZANI ETEDALI, Ameneh TAVAKOL, Abbas KAVIANI. Spatiotemporal variations of evapotranspiration and reference crop water requirement over 1957-2016 in Iran based on CRU TS gridded dataset[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2021, 13(8): 858-878.
[2] Nirmal M DAHAL, XIONG Donghong, Nilhari NEUPANE, Belayneh YIGEZ, ZHANG Baojun, YUAN Yong, Saroj KOIRALA, LIU Lin, FANG Yiping. Spatiotemporal analysis of drought variability based on the standardized precipitation evapotranspiration index in the Koshi River Basin, Nepal[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2021, 13(5): 433-454.
[3] JIA Wuhui, YIN Lihe, ZHANG Maosheng, ZHANG Xinxin, ZHANG Jun, TANG Xiaoping, DONG Jiaqiu. Quantification of groundwater recharge and evapotranspiration along a semi-arid wetland transect using diurnal water table fluctuations[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2021, 13(5): 455-469.
[4] Ibtihal AL-MANTHRIA, Abdulrahim M AL-ISMAILIA, Hemesiri KOTAGAMAB, Mumtaz KHANC, L H Janitha JEEWANTHAD. Water, land, and energy use efficiencies and financial evaluation of air conditioner cooled greenhouses based on field experiments[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2021, 13(4): 375-387.
[5] Durdiev KHAYDAR, CHEN Xi, HUANG Yue, Makhmudov ILKHOM, LIU Tie, Ochege FRIDAY, Abdullaev FARKHOD, Gafforov KHUSEN, Omarakunova GULKAIYR. Investigation of crop evapotranspiration and irrigation water requirement in the lower Amu Darya River Basin, Central Asia[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2021, 13(1): 23-39.
[6] PEI Yanwu, HUANG Laiming, SHAO Ming'an, ZHANG Yinglong. Responses of Amygdalus pedunculata Pall. in the sandy and loamy soils to water stress[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2020, 12(5): 791-805.
[7] JIA Hao, WANG Zhenhua, ZHANG Jinzhu, LI Wenhao, REN Zuoli, JIA Zhecheng, WANG Qin. Effects of biodegradable mulch on soil water and heat conditions, yield and quality of processing tomatoes by drip irrigation[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2020, 12(5): 819-836.
[8] YANG Meilin, YU Yang, ZHANG Haiyan, WANG Qian, GAN Miao, YU Ruide. Tree ring based drought variability in Northwest Tajikistan since 1895 AD[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2020, 12(3): 413-422.
[9] ZHENG Jing, FAN Junliang, ZOU Yufeng, Henry Wai CHAU, ZHANG Fucang. Ridge-furrow plastic mulching with a suitable planting density enhances rainwater productivity, grain yield and economic benefit of rainfed maize[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2020, 12(2): 181-198.
[10] ZHOU Honghua, CHEN Yaning, ZHU Chenggang, YANG Yuhai, YE Zhaoxia. Water transport and water use efficiency differ among Populus euphratica Oliv. saplings exposed to saline water irrigation[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2019, 11(6): 866-879.
[11] DANG Hongzhong, ZHANG Lizhen, YANG Wenbin, FENG Jinchao, HAN Hui, CHEN Yiben. Severe drought strongly reduces water use and its recovery ability of mature Mongolian Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris var. mongolica Litv.) in a semi-arid sandy environment of northern China[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2019, 11(6): 880-891.
[12] HE Guohua, ZHAO Yong, WANG Jianhua, GAO Xuerui, HE Fan, LI Haihong, ZHAI Jiaqi, WANG Qingming, ZHU Yongnan. Attribution analysis based on Budyko hypothesis for land evapotranspiration change in the Loess Plateau, China[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2019, 11(6): 939-953.
[13] Qinli XIONG, Yang XIAO, Waseem A HALMY Marwa, A DAKHIL Mohammed, Pinghan LIANG, Chenggang LIU, Lin ZHANG, PANDEY Bikram, Kaiwen PAN, B EL KAFRAWAY Sameh, Jun CHEN. Monitoring the impact of climate change andhuman activities on grassland vegetation dynamics in the northeastern Qinghai-Tibet Plateauof China during 2000-2015[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2019, 11(5): 637-651.
[14] Yunfei GAO, Chuanyan ZHAO, W ASHIQ Muhammad, Qingtao WANG, Zhanlei RONG, Junjie LIU, Yahua MAO, Zhaoxia GUO, Wenbin WANG. Actual evapotranspiration of subalpine meadows in the Qilian Mountains, Northwest China[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2019, 11(3): 371-384.
[15] Shanshan JIN, Youke WANG, Xing WANG, Yonghong BAI, Leigang SHI. Effect of pruning intensity on soil moisture and water use efficiency in jujube (Ziziphus jujube Mill.) plantations in the hilly Loess Plateau Region, China[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2019, 11(3): 446-460.