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Data from: Moderate grazing promotes the root biomass in Kobresia meadow on the northern Qinghai-Tibet Plateau

Citation

Dai, Licong et al. (2019), Data from: Moderate grazing promotes the root biomass in Kobresia meadow on the northern Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.1pr59gf

Abstract

Grazing is an important modulator of both plant productivity and biodiversity in grassland community, yet how to determine a suitable grazing intensity in alpine grassland is still controversy. Here, we explore the effects of different grazing intensities on plant biomass and species composition, both at community level and functional group level, and examines the productivity–species richness relationship under four grazing patterns: no grazing (CK), light grazing (LG), moderate grazing (MG) and heavy grazing (HG), attempt to determine a suitable grazing intensity in alpine grassland. The results were as follows. The total aboveground biomass (AGB) reduced with increasing grazing intensity, and the response of plant functional groups was different. AGB of both sedges and legumes increased from MG to HG, while the AGB of forbs reduced sharply and the grass AGB remained steady. There was a significant positive relationship between productivity and species richness both at community level and functional group level. In contrast, the belowground biomass (BGB) showed a unimodal relationship from CK to HG, peaking in MG (8297.72±621.29 g m-2). Interestingly, the grassland community tends to allocate more root biomass to the upper soil layer under increasing grazing intensities. Our results suggesting that moderate levels of disturbance may be the optimal grassland management strategy for alpine meadow in terms of root production.

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