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Data from: Leaf meristems: an easily ignored component of the response to human disturbance in alpine grasslands


Hong, Jiangtao; Ma, Xingxing; Wang, Xiaodan (2016), Data from: Leaf meristems: an easily ignored component of the response to human disturbance in alpine grasslands, Dryad, Dataset,


Grazing and fencing are two important factors that influence productivity and biomass allocation in alpine grasslands. The relationship between root (R) and shoot (S) biomass and the root:shoot ratio (R/S) are critical parameters for estimating the terrestrial carbon stocks and biomass allocation mechanism responses to human activities. Previous studies have often used the belowground:aboveground biomass ratio (Mb/Ma) to replace the R/S in alpine ecosystems. However, these studies may have neglected the leaf meristem biomass, which belongs to the shoot but occurs below the soil surface, leading to a significant overestimation of the R/S ratio. We conducted a comparative study to explore the differences between the R/S and Mb/Ma at both the species (Stipa purpurea, Carex moorcroftii, and Artemisia nanschanica) and community levels on a Tibetan alpine grassland with grazing and fencing management blocks. The results revealed that the use of the Mb/Ma to express the R/S appeared to overestimate the actual value of the R/S, both at species and community levels. For S. purpurea, the Mb/Ma was three times higher than the R/S. The Mb/Ma was approximately two times higher than the R/S for the species of C. moorcroftii and A. nanschanica and at the community level. The relationships between the R-S and Mb-Ma exhibited different slopes for the alpine plants across all the management practices. Compared to the fenced grasslands, the plants in the grazing blocks not only allocated more biomass to the roots but also to the leaf meristems. The present study highlights the contribution of leaf meristems to the accurate assessment of shoot and belowground biomasses. The R/S and Mb/Ma should be cautiously used in combination in the future research. The understanding of the distinction between the R-S and Mb-Ma may help to improve the biomass allocation mechanism response to human disturbances in an alpine area.

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