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Open AccessArticle

Light Grazing Significantly Reduces Soil Water Storage in Alpine Grasslands on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau

by Xiaowei Guo 1,2, Licong Dai 1,3, Qian Li 1,2, Dawen Qian 1,2, Guangmin Cao 1,2, Huakun Zhou 1,2 and Yangong Du 1,2,*
Key Laboratory of Adaptation and Evolution of Plateau Biota, Northwest Institute of Plateau Biology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Xining 810008, China
Qinghai Provincial Key Laboratory of Restoration Ecology for Cold Regions, Xining 810008, China
College of Resource and Environment, University of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100000, China
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Sustainability 2020, 12(6), 2523;
Received: 12 February 2020 / Revised: 20 March 2020 / Accepted: 21 March 2020 / Published: 23 March 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Soil and Water Conservation)
The degradation of alpine grasslands directly affects their ability to conserve water, but changes in soil water storage in grassland under different degrees of degradation are poorly understood. Here, we selected four grassland plots along a degradation gradient: no-degradation grassland (NG), lightly degraded grassland (LG), moderately degraded grassland (MG) and severely degraded grassland (SG). We then applied an automatic soil moisture monitoring system to study changes in soil water storage processes. Results revealed significant (p < 0.05) differences in soil water storage among NG, LG, MG and SG. Specifically, LG lost 35.9 mm of soil water storage compared with NG, while soil water storage in LG, MG and SG decreased by 24.5%, 32.1% and 36.7%, respectively. The shallow groundwater table, air temperature and grass litter were the key controlling factors of soil water storage in the grassland. Grazing and future global warming will significantly reduce soil water storage in alpine grasslands. View Full-Text
Keywords: alpine grasslands; degraded grassland; grass litter; soil water storage alpine grasslands; degraded grassland; grass litter; soil water storage
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Guo, X.; Dai, L.; Li, Q.; Qian, D.; Cao, G.; Zhou, H.; Du, Y. Light Grazing Significantly Reduces Soil Water Storage in Alpine Grasslands on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. Sustainability 2020, 12, 2523.

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