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Sustainability 2016, 8(1), 56; doi:10.3390/su8010056

Effect of Grazing Exclusion on Vegetation Characteristics and Soil Organic Carbon of Leymus chinensis Grassland in Northern China

1,2
and
1,2,*
1
State Key Laboratory of Earth Surface Processes and Resource Ecology, Beijing Normal University, Beijing 100875, China
2
College of Resources Science and Technology, Beijing Normal University, Beijing 100875, China
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Vincenzo Torretta
Received: 2 December 2015 / Revised: 24 December 2015 / Accepted: 4 January 2016 / Published: 8 January 2016
(This article belongs to the Section Sustainable Use of the Environment and Resources)
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [718 KB, uploaded 13 January 2016]   |  

Abstract

Overgrazing has caused vegetation destruction and soil degradation in Leymus chinensis grassland, the widely distributed type of grassland in northern China. To restore the degraded ecosystem, grazing exclusion was implemented in 1979, 1999, and 2004. However, changes in the vegetation and soil organic carbon (SOC) in different years of grazing exclusion have not been thoroughly elucidated. This paper examines the changes in vegetation characteristics (i.e., biomass, cover, richness, degree of succession, and shannon diversity index) and SOC under free of grazing (FG), 6 years (6 GE), 11 years (11 GE), and 31 years (31 GE) of grazing exclusion plots in the Xilin River Basin, China. The results indicate that the vegetation characteristics and SOC increased during the restoration process. Both the vegetation characteristics and SOC in 6 GE did not differ significantly from FG (p > 0.05), while these indexes in 11 GE were significantly higher than in FG. The differences between the vegetation characteristics and SOC in 11 GE and those in 31 GE were not significant. To meet the tradeoff between ecosystem conservation and utilization, further studies with multi-year observation should be conducted to identify the optimal duration of grazing exclusion and the grazing exclusion time threshold in L. chinensis grassland. This study provides valuable insights into sustainable grassland management in northern China. View Full-Text
Keywords: biodiversity; biomass; ecosystem management; vegetation recovery biodiversity; biomass; ecosystem management; vegetation recovery
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Chen, J.; Tang, H. Effect of Grazing Exclusion on Vegetation Characteristics and Soil Organic Carbon of Leymus chinensis Grassland in Northern China. Sustainability 2016, 8, 56.

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