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Data from: Asymmetric effects of grazing intensity on macroelements and microelements in grassland soil and plants in Inner Mongolia

Citation

Hou, Dongjie; Guo, Ke; Liu, Changcheng (2021), Data from: Asymmetric effects of grazing intensity on macroelements and microelements in grassland soil and plants in Inner Mongolia, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.37pvmcvgz

Abstract

Grazing is a traditional grassland management technique and greatly alters ecosystem nutrient cycling. The effects of grazing intensity on the nutrient dynamics of soil and plants in grassland ecosystems remain uncertain, especially among microelements. A two-year field grazing experiment was conducted in a typical grassland with four grazing intensities (ungrazed control, light, moderate, and heavy grazing) in Inner Mongolia, China. Nutrient concentration was assessed in soil and three dominant plant species (Stipa krylovii, Leyums chinensis, and Cleistogenes squarrosa). Assessed quantities included four macroelements (carbon (C), nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and magnesium (Mg)) and four microelements (copper (Cu), iron (Fe), manganese (Mn), and zinc (Zn)). Soil total C, total N, total P, available N, and available P concentrations significantly increased with grazing intensity but soil Mg, Cu, Fe, Mn, Zn concentrations had no significant response. Plant C concentration decreased but plant N, P, Mg, Cu, Fe, Mn, and Zn concentrations significantly increased with grazing intensity. In soil, macroelement dynamics (i.e., C, N, and P) exhibited higher sensitivity with grazing intensity, conversely in plants, microelements were more sensitive. This result indicates macroelements and microelements in soil and plants had asymmetric responses with grazing intensity. The slopes of nutrient linear regression in C. squarrosa were higher than that of S. krylovii and L. chinensis, indicating that C. squarrosa had higher nutrient acquisition capacity and responded more rapidly to heavy grazing. These findings indicate that short-term heavy grazing accelerates nutrient cycling of the soil-plant system in grassland ecosystems, elucidate the multiple nutrient dynamics of soil and plants with grazing intensity, and emphasize the important function of microelements in plant adaptation in grazing management.