Journal of soil science and plant nutrition
version ISSN 0718-9516
WEI, Li; HAI-ZHOU, Huang; ZHI-NAN, Zhang and GAO-LIN, Wu. Effects of grazing on the soil properties and C and N storage in relation to biomass allocation in an alpine meadow. J. Soil Sci. Plant Nutr. [online]. 2011, vol.11, n.4, pp. 27-39. ISSN 0718-9516. doi: 10.4067/S0718-95162011000400003.
Livestock grazing is one of the most important factors influencing the above-ground community composition and structure in a natural grassland ecosystem. Different grazing intensities also have the potential to alter soil C and N storage substantially in grasslands. We conducted a field community study and soil analyses to determine the effects of different grazing intensities on the above-ground community and soil properties in an alpine meadow on the Tibetan Plateau. Our results showed the following: (i) the vegetation height, coverage, and above-ground biomass significantly declined with increased grazing intensity, but the species richness reached the highest level in a moderate grazing intensity meadow; (ii) grazing had a significant positive effect on soil properties in that the soil moisture content, soil organic carbon concentration, soil total nitrogen concentration, soil available nitrogen, soil total phosphorus, and soil available phosphorus significantly increased with increased grazing pressure; and (iii) soil C and N storage also significantly increased with increased grazing pressure; altogether, these increases had a significant positive correlation with the increase of below-ground biomass allocation. Our results indicated that higher grazing intensity might have a potentially positive effect to increase the soil C and N storage in alpine meadows. However, from a long-term perspective, moderate grazing may help to achieve a balance between species diversity protection, livestock production and soil C and N management.
Keywords : above-ground community; alpine grassland; biomass allocation; carbon; grazing intensity; nitrogen; soil properties.