The Rangeland Journal The Rangeland Journal Society
Rangeland ecology and management
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Effects of grazing intensity on organic carbon stock characteristics in Stipa breviflora desert steppe vegetation soil systems

Heyun Wang A , Zhi Dong A B , Jianying Guo C D , Hongli Li A B D , Jinrong Li C , Guodong Han B and Xinchuang Chen A
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Forestry College of Shandong Agricultural University, Shandong Provincial Key Laboratory of Soil Erosion and Ecological Restoration, Taishan Mountain Forest Ecosystem Research Station, Tai’an 271018, PR China.

B College of Ecology and Environmental Science, Inner Mongolia Agricultural University, Hohhot 010019, PR China.

C State Key Laboratory of Simulation and Regulation of Water Cycle in River Basin, Institute of Water Resources for Pastoral Area, China Institute of Water Resources and Hydropower Research, Hohhot 010020, PR China.

D Corresponding authors. Emails: guojianying1980@163.com; lhl@sdau.edu.cn

The Rangeland Journal 39(2) 169-177 https://doi.org/10.1071/RJ16007
Submitted: 21 January 2016  Accepted: 15 February 2017   Published: 20 March 2017

Abstract

Grassland ecosystems, an important component of the terrestrial environment, play an essential role in the global carbon cycle and balance. We considered four different grazing intensities on a Stipa breviflora desert steppe: heavy grazing (HG), moderate grazing (MG), light grazing (LG), and an area fenced to exclude livestock grazing as the Control (CK). The analyses of the aboveground biomass, litter, belowground biomass, soil organic carbon and soil light fraction organic carbon were utilised to study the organic carbon stock characteristics in the S. breviflora desert steppe under different grazing intensities. This is important to reveal the mechanisms of grazing impact on carbon processes in the desert steppe, and can provide a theoretical basis for conservation and utilisation of grassland resources. Results showed that the carbon stock was 11.98–44.51 g m–2 in aboveground biomass, 10.43–36.12 g m–2 in plant litters, and 502.30–804.31 g m–2 in belowground biomass (0–40 cm). It was significantly higher in CK than in MG and HG. The carbon stock at 0–40-cm soil depth was 7817.43–9694.16 g m–2, and it was significantly higher in LG than in CK and HG. The total carbon stock in the vegetation-soil system was 8342.14–10494.80 g m–2 under different grazing intensities, with the largest value in LG, followed by MG, CK, and HG. About 90.54–93.71% of the total carbon in grassland ecosystem was reserved in soil. The LG and MG intensities were beneficial to the accumulation of soil organic carbon stock. The soil light fraction organic carbon stock was 484.20–654.62 g m–2 and was the highest under LG intensity. The LG and MG intensities were beneficial for soil nutrient accumulation in the desert steppe.

Additional keywords: biomass, degradation, grassland ecosystems, LFOC, plant community, SOC.


References

Anwar, M., Yang, Y. H., Guo, Z. D., and Fang, J. Y. (2006). Carbon contents and its vertical distribution in alpine grasslands in Bayinbulak, middle stretch of the Tianshan mountains of Xinjiang. Chinese Journal of Plant Ecology 30, 545–552.
Carbon contents and its vertical distribution in alpine grasslands in Bayinbulak, middle stretch of the Tianshan mountains of Xinjiang.CrossRef |

Deng, L., Zhang, Z. N., and Shangguan, Z. P. (2014). Long-term fencing effects on plant diversity and soil properties in China. Soil & Tillage Research 137, 7–15.
Long-term fencing effects on plant diversity and soil properties in China.CrossRef |

Ding, H. J., Han, G. D., Wang, Z. W., Wang, C. X., Zhang, R. Y., and Hu, J. Y. (2014). Effect of different stocking rate on plant community characteristics in Stipa breviflora desert steppe. Chinese Journal of Grassland 36, 55–59.

du Toit, G. V. N., Snyman, H. A., and Malan, P. J. (2009). Physical impact of grazing by sheep on soil parameters in the Nama Karoo subshrub/grass rangeland of South Africa. Journal of Arid Environments 73, 804–810.
Physical impact of grazing by sheep on soil parameters in the Nama Karoo subshrub/grass rangeland of South Africa.CrossRef |

Eldridge, D. J., Val, J., and James, A. I. (2011). Abiotic effects predominate under prolonged livestock induced disturbance. Austral Ecology 36, 367–377.
Abiotic effects predominate under prolonged livestock induced disturbance.CrossRef |

Elmore, A. J., and Asner, G. P. (2006). Effects of grazing intensity on soil carbon stocks following deforestation of a Hawaiian dry tropical forest. Global Change Biology 12, 1761–1772.
Effects of grazing intensity on soil carbon stocks following deforestation of a Hawaiian dry tropical forest.CrossRef |

Fang, J. Y., Yang, Y. H., Ma, W. H., Mohammat, A., and Shen, H. H. (2010). Ecosystem carbon stocks and their changes in China’s grasslands. Science China. Life Sciences 53, 757–765.
Ecosystem carbon stocks and their changes in China’s grasslands.CrossRef | 1:CAS:528:DC%2BC3cXpvVyrur4%3D&md5=8438927ee7bc4530e8fddba4e074f932CAS |

Gregorich, E. G., Beare, M. H., Mckim, U. F., and Skjemstad, J. O. (2006). Chemical and biological characteristics of physically uncomplexed organic matter. Soil Science Society of America Journal 70, 975–985.
Chemical and biological characteristics of physically uncomplexed organic matter.CrossRef | 1:CAS:528:DC%2BD28XksVyks7w%3D&md5=7609949723134bf26fbf3b1a1783474eCAS |

Guo, Z. G., Liang, T. G., and Zhang, Z. H. (2003). Classification management for grassland in Gansu Province, China. New Zealand Journal of Agricultural Research 46, 123–131.
Classification management for grassland in Gansu Province, China.CrossRef |

Han, G. D., Hao, X. Y., Zhao, M. L., Wang, M. J., Ellert, B. H., Willms, W., and Wang, M. J. (2008). Effect of grazing intensity on carbon and nitrogen in soil and vegetation in a meadow steppe in Inner Mongolia. Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment 125, 21–32.
Effect of grazing intensity on carbon and nitrogen in soil and vegetation in a meadow steppe in Inner Mongolia.CrossRef | 1:CAS:528:DC%2BD1cXjtlSrsr8%3D&md5=970d9182b808c0f4d806583178fc668aCAS |

Haynes, R. J. (2005). Labile organic matter fractions as central components of the quality of agricultural soils: an overview. Advances in Agronomy 85, 221–268.
Labile organic matter fractions as central components of the quality of agricultural soils: an overview.CrossRef | 1:CAS:528:DC%2BD2MXksFKqt7g%3D&md5=7697ea3468b568179a0fb634fc7fddc2CAS |

He, N. P., Han, X. G., and Yu, G. R. (2011). Carbon and nitrogen sequestration rate in long-term fenced grasslands in Inner Mongolia, China. Acta Ecologica Sinica 31, 4270–4276.

Huang, C., Zhang, Y., Zhao, M. L., and Han, G. D. (2013). Effects of different grazing intensities on vegetation characteristics of desert steppe. Pratacultural Science 30, 1814–1818.

Janzen, H. H., Campbell, C. A., Brandt, S. A., Lafond, G. P., and Townley-Smith, L. (1992). Light-fraction organic matter in soils from long-term crop rotations. Soil Science Society of America Journal 56, 1799–1806.
Light-fraction organic matter in soils from long-term crop rotations.CrossRef |

Keller, A. A., and Goldstein, R. A. (1998). Impact of carbon storage through restoration of drylands on the global carbon cycle. Environmental Management 22, 757–766.
Impact of carbon storage through restoration of drylands on the global carbon cycle.CrossRef | 1:STN:280:DC%2BC2sjnvFelsA%3D%3D&md5=8b13319ea1471667bc8c89f160f70dbfCAS |

Liu, N., Zhang, Y. J., Chang, S. J., Kan, H. M., and Lin, L. J. (2012). Impact of grazing on soil carbon and microbial biomass in typical steppe and desert steppe of Inner Mongolia. PLoS One 7, 1–9.
Impact of grazing on soil carbon and microbial biomass in typical steppe and desert steppe of Inner Mongolia.CrossRef |

Medina-Roldán, E., Arredondo, T., Huber-Sannwald, E., Chapa-Vargas, L., and Olalde-Portugal, V. (2008). Grazing effects on fungal root symbionts and carbon and nitrogen storage in a shortgrass steppe in Central Mexico. Journal of Arid Environments 72, 546–556.
Grazing effects on fungal root symbionts and carbon and nitrogen storage in a shortgrass steppe in Central Mexico.CrossRef |

Milchunas, D. G., and Laurenroth, W. K. (1993). Quantitative effects of grazing on vegetation and soils over a global range of environments. Ecological Monographs 63, 327–366.
Quantitative effects of grazing on vegetation and soils over a global range of environments.CrossRef |

Nan, Z. B. (2005). The grassland farming system and sustainable agricultural development in China. Grassland Science 51, 15–19.
The grassland farming system and sustainable agricultural development in China.CrossRef |

Percival, H. J., Parfitt, R. L., and Scott, N. A. (2000). Factors controlling soil carbon levels in New Zealand grassland: Is clay content important? Soil Science Society of America Journal 64, 1623–1630.
Factors controlling soil carbon levels in New Zealand grassland: Is clay content important?CrossRef | 1:CAS:528:DC%2BD3cXntlGmurg%3D&md5=4de788986e65cf6e7252c03d976d7cb7CAS |

Qi, Y. C., Dong, Y. S., Geng, Y. B., Yang, X. H., and Geng, H. L. (2003). The progress in the carbon cycle researches in grassland ecosystem in China. Progress in Geography 22, 342–352.

Raiesi, F., and Asadi, E. (2006). Soil microbial activity and litter turnover in native grazed and ungrazed rangelands in a semiarid ecosystem. Biology and Fertility of Soils 43, 76–82.
Soil microbial activity and litter turnover in native grazed and ungrazed rangelands in a semiarid ecosystem.CrossRef |

Reeder, J. D., and Schuman, G. E. (2002). Influence of livestock grazing on C sequestration in semi-arid mixed-grass and short-grass rangelands. Environmental Pollution 116, 457–463.
Influence of livestock grazing on C sequestration in semi-arid mixed-grass and short-grass rangelands.CrossRef | 1:CAS:528:DC%2BD3MXovVertrc%3D&md5=37663151786a3d047ec4e6684e9b442fCAS |

Ryan, M. G., and Law, B. E. (2005). Interpreting, measuring and modeling soil respiration. Biogeochemistry 73, 3–27.
Interpreting, measuring and modeling soil respiration.CrossRef |

Schlesinger, W. H., Reynolds, J. F., Cunningham, G. L., Huenneke, L. F., Jarrell, W. M., Virginia, R. A., and Whitford, W. G. (1990). Biological feedbacks in global desertification. Science 247, 1043–1048.
Biological feedbacks in global desertification.CrossRef | 1:STN:280:DC%2BC3cvjs1aisg%3D%3D&md5=9325c79a7b3eb4c8a11296ef0d588306CAS |

Shariff, A. R., Biondini, M. E., and Grygiel, C. E. (1994). Grazing intensity effects on litter decomposition and soil nitrogen mineralization. Journal of Range Management 47, 444–449.
Grazing intensity effects on litter decomposition and soil nitrogen mineralization.CrossRef |

Smit, A., Kooijman, A. M., and Sevink, J. (2002). Impact of grazing on litter decomposition and nutrient availability in a grass-encroached Scots pine forest. Forest Ecology and Management 158, 117–126.
Impact of grazing on litter decomposition and nutrient availability in a grass-encroached Scots pine forest.CrossRef |

Steffens, M., Kölbl, A., Kai, U. T., and Kögel-Knabner, I. (2008). Grazing effects on soil chemical and physical properties in a semiarid steppe of Inner Mongolia (P.R. China). Geoderma 143, 63–72.
Grazing effects on soil chemical and physical properties in a semiarid steppe of Inner Mongolia (P.R. China).CrossRef | 1:CAS:528:DC%2BD2sXhsVent77M&md5=e0d96e1dcf66b4262edb3dcdc5a5d611CAS |

Taddese, G., Saleem, M. A. M., Abyie, A., and Wagnew, A. (2002). Impact of grazing on plant species richness, plant biomass, plant attribute and soil physical and hydrological properties of Vertisol in East African Highlands. Environmental Management 29, 279–289.
Impact of grazing on plant species richness, plant biomass, plant attribute and soil physical and hydrological properties of Vertisol in East African Highlands.CrossRef |

Tang, L., Dang, X. H., Liu, G. B., Shao, C. K., and Xue, S. (2014). Response of artificial grassland carbon stock to management in mountain region of Southern Ningxia, China. Chinese Geographical Science 24, 436–443.
Response of artificial grassland carbon stock to management in mountain region of Southern Ningxia, China.CrossRef |

Wang, C. T., Wang, Q. J., Long, R. J., Jing, Z. C., and Shi, H. L. (2004). Changes in plant species diversity and productivity along an elevation gradient in an alpine meadow. Acta Phytoecologica Sinica 28, 240–245.
Changes in plant species diversity and productivity along an elevation gradient in an alpine meadow.CrossRef |

Wang, Z. W., Jiao, S. Y., Han, G. D., Zhao, M. L., Willms, W. D., Hao, X. Y., Wang, J. A., Din, H. J., and Havstad, K. M. (2011). Impact of stocking rate and rainfall on sheep performance in a desert steppe. Rangeland Ecology and Management 64, 249–256.
Impact of stocking rate and rainfall on sheep performance in a desert steppe.CrossRef |

Wang, X. D., Yan, Y., and Cao, Y. Z. (2012). Impact of historic grazing on steppe soils on the northern Tibetan Plateau. Plant and Soil 354, 173–183.
Impact of historic grazing on steppe soils on the northern Tibetan Plateau.CrossRef | 1:CAS:528:DC%2BC38XlvFWgtL4%3D&md5=ab0f2c09bb185ee199bb047b2948ef1bCAS |

Wheeler, M. A., Trlica, M. J., Frasier, G. W., and Reeder, J. D. (2002). Seasonal grazing affects soil physical properties of a montane riparian community. Journal of Range Management 55, 49–56.
Seasonal grazing affects soil physical properties of a montane riparian community.CrossRef |

Wu, Y. S., Ma, W. L., Li, H., Lü, G. F., and Lu, P. (2010). Seasonal variations of soil organic carbon and microbial biomass in degraded desert steppes of Inner Mongolia. Chinese Journal of Applied Ecology 21, 312–316.

Xiao, J. F., Zhuang, Q. L., Liang, E. Y., McGuire, A. D., Moody, A., Kicklighter, D. W., Shao, X. M., and Melillo, J. M. (2009). Twentieth-century droughts and their impacts on terrestrial carbon cycling in China. Earth Interactions 13, 1–31.
Twentieth-century droughts and their impacts on terrestrial carbon cycling in China.CrossRef |

Yan, R. R., Xin, X. P., Wang, X., Yan, Y. C., Deng, Y., and Yang, G. X. (2014). The change of soil carbon and nitrogen under different grazing gradients in Hulunber meadow steppe. Acta Ecologica Sinica 34, 1587–1595.

Yuan, W. P., Liu, D., Dong, W. J., Liu, S. G., Zhou, G. S., Yu, G. R., Zhao, T. B., Feng, J. M., Ma, Z. G., Chen, J. Q., Chen, Y., Chen, S. P., Han, S. J., Huang, J. P., Li, L. H., Liu, H. Z., Liu, S. M., Ma, M. G., Wang, Y. F., Xia, J. Z., Xu, W. F., Zhang, Q., Zhao, X. Q., and Zhao, L. (2014). Multiyear precipitation reduction strongly decreases carbon uptake over northern China. Journal of Geophysical Research. Biogeosciences 119, 881–896.
Multiyear precipitation reduction strongly decreases carbon uptake over northern China.CrossRef | 1:CAS:528:DC%2BC2cXpsFejtro%3D&md5=5beb0f4c2387dbcbbecd12e96de154dcCAS |

Zhang, Y. B., Luo, P., Sun, G., Mou, C. X., Wang, Z. Y., Wu, N., and Luo, G. R. (2012). Effects of grazing on litter decomposition in two alpine meadow on the eastern Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. Acta Ecologica Sinica 32, 4605–4617.
Effects of grazing on litter decomposition in two alpine meadow on the eastern Qinghai-Tibet Plateau.CrossRef |

Zhao, H. L., Zhao, X. Y., Zhang, T. H., and Zhou, R. L. (2003). Study on damaged process of the vegetation under grazing stress in sandy grassland. Acta Ecologica Sinica 23, 1505–1511.



Export Citation Cited By (1)