Table of Content

    30 May 2020, Volume 11 Issue 3 Previous Issue    Next Issue
    Towards Regional Synergy: Reconciling Rangeland Ecological Functioning with Forage Production of Cultivated Pasture
    SHI Peili, ZHANG Xianzhou
    2020, 11 (3):  247-252.  doi: 10.5814/j.issn.1674-764X.2020.03.001
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    Animal husbandry and crop farming are specialized for development in separate areas on the Tibetan Plateau. Such a pattern of isolation has led to current concerns of rangeland and farming system degradation due to intensive land use. The crop-livestock integration, however, has been proven to increase food and feed productivity thorough niche complementarity, and is thereby especially effective for promoting ecosystem resilience. Regional synergy has emerged as an integrated approach to reconcile rangeland livestock with forage crop production. It moves beyond the specialized sectors of animal husbandry and intensive agriculture to coordinate them through regional coupling. Therefore, crop-livestock integration (CLI) has been suggested as one of the effective solutions to forage deficit and livestock production in grazing systems. But it is imperative that CLI moves forward from the farm level to the regional scale, in order to secure regional synergism during agro-pastoral development. The national key R & D program, Technology and Demonstration of Recovery and Restoration of Degraded Alpine Ecosystems on the Tibetan Plateau, aims to solve the problems of alpine grassland degradation by building up a grass-based animal husbandry technology system that includes synergizing forage production and ecological functioning, reconciling the relationship between ecology, forage production and animal husbandry, and achieving the win-win goals of curbing grassland degradation and changing the development mode of animal husbandry. It is imperative to call for regional synergy through integrating ecological functioning with ecosystem services, given the alarming threat of rangeland degradation on the Tibetan Plateau. The series of papers in this issue, together with those published previously, provide a collection of rangeland ecology and management studies in an effort to ensure the sustainable use and management of the alpine ecosystems.

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    Rangeland Ecosystem Function and Management
    Satellite-based Estimates of Canopy Photosynthetic Parameters for an Alpine Meadow in Northern
    NIU Ben, HE Yongtao, ZHANG Xianzhou, SHI Peili, DU Mingyuan
    2020, 11 (3):  253-262.  doi: 10.5814/j.issn.1674-764X.2020.03.002
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    Plant photosynthesis is the fundamental driver of all the biospheric functions. Alpine meadow on the Tibetan Plateau is sensitive to rapid climate change, and thus can be considered an indicator for the response of terrestrial ecosystems to climate change. However, seasonal variations in photosynthetic parameters, including the fraction of photosynthetically active radiation by canopy (FPAR), the light extinction coefficient (k) through canopy, and the leaf area index (LAI) of plant communities, are not known for alpine meadows on the Tibetan Plateau. In this study, we used field measurements of radiation components and canopy structure from 2009 to 2011 at a typical alpine meadow on the northern Tibetan Plateau to calculate these three photosynthetic parameters. We developed a satellite-based (NDVI and EVI) method derived from the Beer-Lambert law to estimate the seasonal dynamics of FPAR, k ,and LAI, and we compared these estimates with the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) FPAR (FPAR_MOD) and LAI product (LAI_MOD). The results showed that the average daily FPAR was 0.33, 0.37 and 0.35, respectively, from 2009 to 2011, and that the temporal variations could be explained by all four satellite-based FPAR estimations, including FPAR_MOD, an FPAR estimation derived from the Beer-Lambert law with a constant k (FPAR_LAI), and two FPAR estimations from the nonlinear functions between the ground measurements of FPAR (FAPRg) and NDVI/EVI (FPAR_NDVI and FPAR_EVI). We found that FPAR_MOD seriously undervalued FPARg by over 40%. Tower-based FPAR_LAI also significantly underestimated FPARg by approximately 20% due to the constant k (0.5) throughout the whole growing seasons. This indicated that using FPAR_LAI to validate the FPAR_MOD was not an appropriate method in this alpine meadow because the seasonal variation of k ranged from 0.19 to 2.95 in this alpine meadow. Thus, if the seasonal variation of k was taken into consideration, both FPAR_NDVI and FPAR_EVI provided better descriptions, with negligible overestimates of less than 5% of FAPRg (RMSE=0.05), in FPARg estimations than FPAR_MOD and FPAR_LAI. Combining the satellite-based (NDVI and EVI) estimations of seasonal FPAR and k, LAI_NDVI and LAI_EVI derived from the Beer-Lambert law also provided better LAIg estimations than LAI_MOD (less than 30% of LAIg). Therefore, this study concluded that satellite-based models derived from the Beer-Lambert law were a simple and efficient method for estimating the seasonal dynamics of FPAR, k and LAI in this alpine meadow.

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    Multifunctionality and Thresholds of Alpine Grassland on the Tibetan Plateau
    SONG Minghua, LI Meng, HUO Jiajuan, WU Liang, ZHANG Xianzhou
    2020, 11 (3):  263-271.  doi: 10.5814/j.issn.1674-764X.2020.03.003
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    Ecosystems can simultaneously provide multiple functions and services. Knowledge on the combinations of such multi-dimensional functions is critical for accurately assessing the carrying capacity and implementing sustainable management. However, accurately quantify the multifunctionality of ecosystems remains challenging due to the dependence and close association among individual functions. Here, we quantified spatial patterns in the multifunctionality of alpine grassland on the Tibetan Plateau by integrating four important individual functions based on data collected from a field survey and remote sensing NDVI. After mapping the spatial pattern of multifunctionality, we extracted multifunctionality values across four types of grassland along the northern Tibet Plateau transect. Effects of climate and grazing intensity on the multifunctionality were differentiated. Our results showed that the highest values of multifunctionality occurred in the alpine meadow. Low values of multifunctionality were comparable in different types of grassland. Annual precipitation explained the large variation of multifunctionality across the different types of grassland in the transect, which showed a significantly positive effect on the multifunctionality. Grazing intensity further explained the rest of the variation in the multifunctionality (residuals), which showed a shift from neutral or positive to negative effects on multifunctionality across the different types of grassland. The consistently rapid declines of belowground biomass, SOC, and species richness resulted in the collapse of the multifunctionality as bare ground cover amounted to 75%, which corresponded to a multifunctionality value of 0.233. Our results are the first to show the spatial pattern of grassland multifunctionality. The rapid decline of the multifunctionality suggests that a collapse in the multifunctionality can occur after the vegetation cover decreases to 25%, which is also accompanied by rapid losses of species and other individual functions. Our results are expected to provide evidence and direction for the sustainable development of alpine grassland and restoration management.

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    Comparison of Methods for Evaluating the Forage-livestock Balance of Alpine Grasslands on the Northern Tibetan Plateau
    CAO Yanan, ZHANG Xianzhou, NIU Ben, HE Yongtao
    2020, 11 (3):  272-282.  doi: 10.5814/j.issn.1674-764X.2020.03.004
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    Livestock grazing is one of primary way to use grasslands throughout the world, and the forage-livestock balance of grasslands is a core issue determining animal husbandry sustainability. However, there are few methods for assessing the forage-livestock balance and none of those consider the dynamics of external abiotic factors that influence forage yields. In this study, we combine long-term field observations with remote sensing data and meteorological records of temperature and precipitation to quantify the impacts of climate change and human activities on the forage-livestock balance of alpine grasslands on the northern Tibetan Plateau for the years 2000 to 2016. We developed two methods: one is statical method based on equilibrium theory and the other is dynamic method based on non-equilibrium theory. We also examined the uncertainties and shortcomings of using these two methods as a basis for formulating policies for sustainable grassland management. Our results from the statical method showed severe overgrazing in the grasslands of all counties observed except Nyima (including Shuanghu) for the entire period from 2000 to 2016. In contrast, the results from the dynamic method showed overgrazing in only eight years of the study period 2000-2016, while in the other nine years alpine grasslands throughout the northern Tibetan Plateau were less grazed and had forage surpluses. Additionally, the dynamic method found that the alpine grasslands of counties in the northeastern and southwestern areas of the northern Tibetan Plateau were overgrazed, and that alpine grasslands in the central area of the plateau were less grazed with forage surpluses. The latter finding is consistent with field surveys. Therefore, we suggest that the dynamic method is more appropriate for assessment of forage-livestock management efforts in alpine grasslands on the northern Tibetan Plateau. However, the statical method is still recommended for assessments of alpine grasslands profoundly disturbed by irrational human activities.

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    Impact of Grazing Exclusion on the Surface Heat Balance in North Tibet
    FENG Yunfei, DI Yingwei, ZHANG Jing, ZHANG Xianzhou, SHI Peili, Niu Ben
    2020, 11 (3):  283-289.  doi: 10.5814/j.issn.1674-764X.2020.03.005
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    The grazing exclusion program used by the Tibetan government to protect the ecological environment has changed the vegetation and impacted the surface heat balance in North Tibet. However, little information is available to describe the in?uences of the current grazing exclusion program on local surface heat balance. This study uses the records of fenced grassland patch locations to identify the impact of grazing exclusion on surface heat balance in North Tibet. The records of fenced grassland patch locations, including the longitude, latitude, and elevation of the vertices of each fenced patch (polygon shapes), were provided by the agriculture and animal husbandry bureaus of the counties where the patches were located. ArcGIS 10.2 was used to create polygon shapes based on patch location records. Based on satellite data and the surface heat balance system determined by the model, values for changes in land surface temperature (LST), albedo and evapotranspiration (ET) induced by grazing exclusion were obtained. All of these can influence surface heat balance and alter the fluctuation of LST in the northern Tibetan Plateau. The LST trends for day and night showed an asymmetric diurnal variation, with a larger magnitude of warming in the day than cooling at night. The maximum decrease in absorbed shortwave of LST (-0.5 - -0.4 ℃ per decade) occurred in the central region, while the minimum decrease (-0.2 - -0.1 ℃ per decade) occurred in the eastern region. The decreased latent heat lead to the LST increased maximum (>1 ℃ per decade) occurred in the central region, The eastern region increased at a rate of 0.2-0.5 ℃ per decade, while the minimum increase (0-0.1 ℃ per decade) occurred in the northwestern region.

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    Effects of Enclosure on Plant and Soil Nutrients in Different Types of Alpine Grassland
    WANG Fang, HE Yongtao, FU Gang, NIU Ben, ZHANG Haorui, LI Meng, WANG Zhipeng, WANG Xiangtao, ZHANG Xianzhou
    2020, 11 (3):  290-297.  doi: 10.5814/j.issn.1674-764X.2020.03.006
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    Enclosure is one of the most widely used management tools for degraded alpine grassland on the northern Tibetan Plateau, but the responses of different types of grassland to enclosure may vary, and research on these responses can provide a scientific basis for improving ecological conservation. This study took one site for each of three grassland types (alpine meadow, alpine steppe and alpine desert) on the northern Tibetan Plateau as examples, and explored the effects of enclosure on plant and soil nutrients by comparing differences in plant community biomass, leaf-soil nutrient content and their stoichiometry between samples from inside and outside the fence. The results showed that enclosure can significantly increase all aboveground biomass in these three grassland types, but it only increased the 10-20 cm underground biomass in the alpine desert. Enclosure also significantly increased the leaf nutrient content of the dominant plants and contents of total nitrogen (N), total potassium (K), and organic carbon (C) in 10-20 cm soil in alpine desert, thus changing the stoichiometry between C, N and P (phosphorus). However, enclosure significantly increased only the N content of dominant plant leaves in alpine steppe, while other nutrients and stoichiometries of both plant leaves and soil did not show significant differences in alpine meadow and alpine steppe. These results suggested that enclosure has differential effects on these three types of alpine grasslands on the northern Tibetan Plateau, and the alpine desert showed the most active ecological conservation in the responses of its soil and plant nutrients.

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    A Meta-analysis of the Effects of Organic and Inorganic Fertilizers on the Soil Microbial Community
    WANG Jiangwei, ZHANG Guangyu, YU Chengqun
    2020, 11 (3):  298-303.  doi: 10.5814/j.issn.1674-764X.2020.03.007
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    In order to investigate the general tendency of soil microbial community responses to fertilizers, a meta-analysis approach was used to synthesise observations on the effects of inorganic and organic fertilizer addition (N: nitrogen; P: phosphorus; NP: nitrogen and phosphorus; PK: phosphorus and potassium; NPK: nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium; OF: organic fertilizer; OF+NPK: organic fertilizer plus NPK) on soil microbial communities. Among the various studies, PK, NPK, OF and OF+NPK addition increased total phospholipid fatty acid (PLFA) by 52.0%, 19.5%, 334.3% and 58.3%, respectively; while NP, OF and OF+NPK addition increased fungi by 5.6%, 21.0% and 8.2%, respectively. NP, NPK and OF addition increased bacteria by 6.4%, 9.8% and 13.3%, respectively; while NP and NPK addition increased actinomycetes by 7.0% and 14.8%, respectively. Addition of ammonium nitrate rather than urea decreased gram-negative bacteria (G -). N addition increased total PLFA、bacteria and actinomycetes in croplands, but decreased fungi and bacteria in forests, and the F/B ratio in grasslands. NPK addition increased total PLFA in forests but not in croplands. The N addition rate was positively correlated with the effects of N addition on gram-positive bacteria (G +) and G -. Therefore, different fertilizers appear to have different effects on the soil microbial community. Organic fertilizers can have a greater positive effect on the soil microbial community than inorganic fertilizers. The effects of fertilizers on the soil microbial community varied with ecosystem types. The effect of N addition on the soil microbial community was related to both the forms of nitrogen that were added and the nitrogen addition rate.

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    Ecosystem Responses to Climate Change
    Variations in the Drought Severity Index in Response to Climate Change on the Tibetan Plateau
    WANG Xiangtao, ZHANG Xianzhou, WANG Junhao, NIU Ben
    2020, 11 (3):  304-314.  doi: 10.5814/j.issn.1674-764X.2020.03.008
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    Quantifying the relationship between the drought severity index and climate factors is crucial for predicting drought risk in situations characterized by climate change. However, variations in drought risk are not readily discernible under conditions of climate change, and this is particularly the case on the Tibetan Plateau. This study examines the correlations between the annual drought severity index (DSI) and 14 climate factors (including temperature, precipitation, humidity, wind speed, and hours of sunshine factors), on the Tibetan Plateau from 2000 to 2011. Spatial average DSI increased with precipitation and minimum relative humidity, while it decreased as the hours of sunshine increased. The correlation between DSI and climate factors varied with vegetation types. In alpine meadows, the correlation of the spatial DSI average with the percentage of sunshine and hours of sunshine (P<0.001) was higher compared to that in alpine steppes (P<0.05). Similarly, average vapor pressure and minimum relative humidity had significant positive effects on spatial DSI in alpine meadows, but had insignificant effects in alpine steppes. The magnitude of DSI change correlated negatively with temperature, precipitation, and vapor pressure, and positively with wind speed and sunshine. This demonstrates that the correlation between drought and climate change on the Tibetan Plateau is dependent on the type of ecosystem.

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    Response of Plant Community Carbon and Nitrogen Stoichiometry to Experimental Warming on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau
    ZHANG Haorui, QIN Jiwei, FU Gang
    2020, 11 (3):  315-321.  doi: 10.5814/j.issn.1674-764X.2020.03.009
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    Low temperature is an important limiting factor for alpine ecosystems on the Tibetan Plateau. This study is based on data from on-site experimental warming platforms (open top chambers, OTC) at three elevations (4300 m, 4500 m, 4700 m) on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. The carbon and nitrogen stoichiometry characteristics of plant communities, both above-ground and below-ground, were observed in three alpine meadow ecosystems in August and September of 2011 and August of 2012. Experimental warming significantly increased above-ground nitrogen content by 21.4% in September 2011 at 4500 m, and reduced above-ground carbon content by 3.9% in August 2012 at 4300 m. Experimental warming significantly increased below-ground carbon content by 5.5% in August 2011 at 4500 m, and the below-ground ratio of carbon to nitrogen by 28.0% in September 2011 at 4300 m, but reduced below-ground nitrogen content by 15.7% in September 2011 at 4700 m, below-ground carbon content by 34.3% in August 2012 at 4700 m, and the below-ground ratio of carbon to nitrogen by 37.9% in August 2012 at 4700 m. Experimental warming had no significant effect on the characteristics of community carbon and nitrogen stoichiometry under other conditions. Therefore, experimental warming had inconsistent effects on the carbon and nitrogen stoichiometry of plant communities at different elevations and during different months. Soil ammonium nitrogen and nitrate nitrogen content were the main factors affecting plant community carbon and nitrogen stoichiometry.

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    Comparative Study of the Impact of Drought Stress on P.centrasiaticum at the Seedling Stage in Tibet
    ZHANG Guangyu, WANG Jiangwei, ZHANG Haorui, FU Gang, SHEN Zhenxi
    2020, 11 (3):  322-328.  doi: 10.5814/j.issn.1674-764X.2020.03.010
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    Pennisetum centrasiaticum is widely distributed in arid and semi-arid areas of Tibet. Its rhizome system is developed and has strong resistance to adversity. In this study, the physiological characteristics and drought resistance of P.centrasiaticum seedlings from 12 drought-stressed sites in Tibet were examined at the Lhasa Plateau Ecosystem Research Station of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. PEG-6000 solution with five levels of water potential (0, -0.7, -1.4, -2.1, and -2.8 MPa) was used to simulate drought stress, and malondialdehyde (MDA), proline (Pro) and chlorophyll contents were determined. The balance between production and elimination of reactive oxygen species in P.centrasiaticum was destroyed, leading to membrane lipid peroxidation and the production of MDA, and accelerating the decomposition of chlorophyll. P.centrasiaticum absorbed water from the outside to resist drought by secreting proline and other osmotic regulating substances. The Pro and chlorophyll contents in P.centrasiaticum showed a temporary rising trend, and then decreased with the decrease in water potential. MDA content increased with the decrease in water potential. By using the membership function method, the drought resistance of P.centrasiaticum seedlings from the 12 areas was evaluated, and the results showed that the drought resistance at the sites went from strong to weak in this order: Xietongmen > Linzhou > Sog > Damxung > Tingri > Namling > Gyirong > Linzhi > Purang > Dingjie > Longzi > Sa’gya. The drought resistance of P.centrasiaticum was strong in Xietongmen, Linzhou and Sog. Whether P.centrasiaticum from these three areas is suitable for cultivation in arid and semi-arid areas of Tibet needs further study.

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