The effects of defoliation on plant community, root biomass and nutrient allocation and soil chemical properties on semi-arid steppes in northern China

Guo, Y-J. and Han, L. and Li, G-D. and Han, J-G. and Wang, G-L. and Li, Z-Y. and Wilson, B. (2012) The effects of defoliation on plant community, root biomass and nutrient allocation and soil chemical properties on semi-arid steppes in northern China. Journal of Arid Environments, 78. pp. 128-134. ISSN 0140-1963

Abstract

Semi-arid steppes in northern China have severely deteriorated over the past 50 years, mostly due to improper grazing management. A defoliation experiment was conducted on a Leymus chinensis-dominated semi-arid steppe to provide guidelines of grazing management and favor long-term restoration of degraded grasslands. There were five defoliation treatments: non-defoliation (no cutting during growing season) as control; light defoliation (cut 15 cm above ground level); medium defoliation (10 cm); hard defoliation (5 cm) and severe defoliation (2 cm). Results showed that hard and severe defoliation significantly reduced the concentrations of soluble carbohydrates in rhizomes and fibrous roots and decreased the belowground biomass and the ratio of below/aboveground biomass. Defoliation increased plant species diversity, but decreased biomass of L. chinensis significantly. The biomass of L. chinensis under light defoliation was lower than that in control, indicating L. chinensis was highly sensitive to defoliation. Defoliation intensity in general had no significant effect on soil chemical properties during the experimental period, suggesting that soil chemical properties might have a greater tolerance to short-term heavy defoliation compared to plant community. However, prolonged intensive defoliation would result in severe ecological consequences. Further studies are required to investigate the response of soil chemical properties to long-term defoliation.


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Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Files associated with this item cannot be displayed due to copyright restrictions.
Faculty / Department / School: Current - Institute for Agriculture and the Environment
Date Deposited: 10 Feb 2017 02:55
Last Modified: 21 Mar 2017 04:44
Uncontrolled Keywords: agro-pastoral transitional zones; cutting; degradation; Leymus chinensis; management
Fields of Research : 07 Agricultural and Veterinary Sciences > 0703 Crop and Pasture Production > 070308 Crop and Pasture Protection (Pests, Diseases and Weeds)
Identification Number or DOI: 10.1016/j.jaridenv.2011.11.003
URI: http://eprints.usq.edu.au/id/eprint/29958

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