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Article << Previous     |     Next >>   Contents Vol 36(2)

Characterisation of locoweeds and their effect on livestock production in the western rangelands of China: a review

Hao Lu A , Dan Dan Cao A , Feng Ma A , Shan Shan Wang A , Xiao Wen Yang A , Wen Long Wang A , Qi Wu Zhou A and Bao Yu Zhao A B

A College of Veterinary Medicine, Northwest A&F University, Yangling, Shaanxi, 712100 PR China.
B Corresponding author. Email: zhaobaoyu12005@163.com

The Rangeland Journal 36(2) 121-131 http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/RJ13105
Submitted: 29 May 2013  Accepted: 16 December 2013   Published: 20 January 2014


 
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Abstract

The rangelands of China are an important resource for livestock production, and play a strategic role in maintaining ecosystems and protecting the living environment of humans. Drought, overgrazing, infrastructure development, insufficient investment and poor management of rangelands have led to the invasion and spread of poisonous weeds in these rangelands in recent years. The rapid spread of poisonous weeds over the last few decades have caused a series of ecological problems, including a decrease in biological diversity and consequent desertification, and they are seriously affecting the ecological balance of rangelands, and the sustainable livestock production. Locoweeds, which belong to the genera Oxytropis and Astragalus, are an important species of poisonous legumes in the western rangelands of China, causing large economic losses. This review summarises the species and their ecological distribution, the toxic ingredients, the poisoning mechanism of locoweeds and damage control techniques for locoweeds. It attempts to highlight certain issues relating to research on locoweeds and how they are being tackled in order to understand the significance of locoweeds in preserving ecosystem diversity and the steps that require to be taken to control the spread of locoweeds in the western natural rangeland of China.

Additional keywords: biological diversity, damage control techniques, desertification, poisonous weeds, toxins.


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