Ecophysiology and Ecology of Grassland

A special issue of Plants (ISSN 2223-7747). This special issue belongs to the section "Plant Ecology".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (20 January 2023) | Viewed by 28278

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Special Issue Editors


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Guest Editor
State Key Laboratory of Soil Erosion and Dryland Farming on the Loess Platea, Northwest A&F University, Yangling 712100, China
Interests: native species eco-adaptation; grassland ecology; functional diversity; ecological service; grassland stability; restoration ecology

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Guest Editor
1. College of Grassland Agriculture, Northwest A&F University, Yangling 712100, China
2. State Key Laboratory of Soil Erosion and Dryland Farming on the Loess Plateau, Northwest A&F University, Yangling 712100, China
3. Institute of Soil and Water Conservation, Chinese Academy of Sciences and Ministry of Water Resources, Yangling 712100, China
Interests: vegetation restoration and reconstruction; grassland ecological restoration; water and soil conservation; plant functional traits; GIS spatial analysis; remote sensing application analysis
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Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Natural grassland is one of the most important ecosystems on the earth, and it has multiple functions such as biomass production, ecology, economy, culture and entertainment. Natural grassland is facing various threats around the world and has become one of the most degraded ecosystems due to overuse, low maintenance input and climate change. Biomass production and species composition can comprehensively reflect grassland structure and functional changes in response to abiotic stress and environmental change. The ecophysiological and ecological analysis of key species and the community traits will be beneficial to better understand the dynamics of biomass elaboration and renewal of natural grassland. This Special Issue mainly focuses on the integrated research from species to ecosystem level in natural grasslands in response to human disturbances, abiotic stresses and climate change. We welcome the manuscripts submitted by newly minted PhDs to present their updated research results within the topic.

We are looking forward to receiving your submissions for this Special Issue.

Prof. Dr. Bingcheng Xu
Prof. Dr. Zhongming Wen
Guest Editors

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Keywords

  • native species
  • species diversity
  • functional diversity
  • trait structure
  • community succession
  • ecological service
  • ecosystem stoichiometry
  • grassland stability
  • climate change

Published Papers (13 papers)

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Editorial

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4 pages, 190 KiB  
Editorial
Periodical Progress in Ecophysiology and Ecology of Grassland
by Bingcheng Xu and Zhongming Wen
Plants 2023, 12(12), 2244; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants12122244 - 8 Jun 2023
Viewed by 862
Abstract
As one of the most important ecosystems on the planet, grasslands serve a variety of purposes in ecology, economy, culture and entertainment [...] Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ecophysiology and Ecology of Grassland)

Research

Jump to: Editorial, Review

12 pages, 1997 KiB  
Article
Intraspecific Variation in Functional Traits of Medicago sativa Determine the Effect of Plant Diversity and Nitrogen Addition on Flowering Phenology in a One-Year Common Garden Experiment
by Yue Ma, Xiang Zhao, Xiaona Li, Yanxia Hu and Chao Wang
Plants 2023, 12(10), 1994; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants12101994 - 16 May 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1304
Abstract
Nitrogen deposition and biodiversity alter plant flowering phenology through abiotic factors and functional traits. However, few studies have considered their combined effects on flowering phenology. A common garden experiment with two nitrogen addition levels (0 and 6 g N m−2 year−1 [...] Read more.
Nitrogen deposition and biodiversity alter plant flowering phenology through abiotic factors and functional traits. However, few studies have considered their combined effects on flowering phenology. A common garden experiment with two nitrogen addition levels (0 and 6 g N m−2 year−1) and five species richness levels (1, 2, 4, 6, and 8) was established. We assessed the effects of nitrogen addition and plant species richness on three flowering phenological events of Medicago sativa L. via changes in functional traits, soil nutrients, and soil moisture and temperature. The first flowering day was delayed, the last flowering day advanced, and the flowering duration shortened after nitrogen addition. Meanwhile, the last flowering day advanced, and flowering duration shortened along plant species richness gradients, with an average of 0.64 and 0.95 days change per plant species increase, respectively. Importantly, it was observed that plant species richness affected flowering phenology mainly through changes in plant nutrient acquisition traits (i.e., leaf nitrogen and carbon/nitrogen ratio). Our findings illustrate the non-negligible effects of intraspecific variation in functional traits on flowering phenology and highlight the importance of including functional traits in phenological models to improve predictions of plant phenology in response to nitrogen deposition and biodiversity loss. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ecophysiology and Ecology of Grassland)
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14 pages, 579 KiB  
Article
Biomass and Leaf Nutrition Contents of Selected Grass and Legume Species in High Altitude Rangelands of Kashmir Himalaya Valley (Jammu & Kashmir), India
by Javed A. Mugloo, Mehraj ud din Khanday, Mehraj ud din Dar, Ishrat Saleem, Hesham F. Alharby, Atif A. Bamagoos, Sameera A. Alghamdi, Awatif M. Abdulmajeed, Pankaj Kumar and Sami Abou Fayssal
Plants 2023, 12(7), 1448; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants12071448 - 25 Mar 2023
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1605
Abstract
The yield and nutritional profile of grass and legume species in Kashmir Valley’s rangelands are scantly reported. The study area in this paper included three types of sites (grazed, protected, and seed-sown) divided into three circles: northern, central, and southern Kashmir. From each [...] Read more.
The yield and nutritional profile of grass and legume species in Kashmir Valley’s rangelands are scantly reported. The study area in this paper included three types of sites (grazed, protected, and seed-sown) divided into three circles: northern, central, and southern Kashmir. From each circle, three districts and three villages per district were selected. Most sites showed higher aboveground biomass (AGB) compared to belowground biomass (BGB), which showed low to moderate effects on biomass. The comparison between northern, central, and southern Kashmir regions revealed that AGB (86.74, 78.62, and 75.22 t. ha−1), BGB (52.04, 51.16, and 50.99 t. ha−1), and total biomass yield (138.78, 129.78, and 126.21 t. ha−1) were the highest in central Kashmir region, followed by southern and northern Kashmir regions, respectively. More precisely, AGB and total biomass yield recorded the highest values in the protected sites of the central Kashmir region, whereas BGB scored the highest value in the protected sites of southern Kashmir region. The maximum yield (12.5 t. ha−1) recorded among prominent grasses was attributed to orchard grass, while the highest crude fiber and crude protein contents (34.2% and 10.4%, respectively), were observed for Agrostis grass. The maximum yield and crude fiber content (25.4 t. ha−1 and 22.7%, respectively), among prominent legumes were recorded for red clover. The highest crude protein content (33.2%) was attributed to white clover. Those findings concluded the successful management of Kashmir rangelands in protected sites, resulting in high biomass yields along with the considerable nutritional value of grasses and legumes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ecophysiology and Ecology of Grassland)
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16 pages, 10214 KiB  
Article
Leaf Photosynthetic and Functional Traits of Grassland Dominant Species in Response to Nutrient Addition on the Chinese Loess Plateau
by Yuan Jin, Shuaibin Lai, Zhifei Chen, Chunxia Jian, Junjie Zhou, Furong Niu and Bingcheng Xu
Plants 2022, 11(21), 2921; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants11212921 - 30 Oct 2022
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 1713
Abstract
Leaf photosynthetic and functional traits of dominant species are important for understanding grassland community dynamics under imbalanced nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) inputs. Here, the effects of N (N0, N50, and N100, corresponding to 0, 50, and 100 kg ha−1 yr−1 [...] Read more.
Leaf photosynthetic and functional traits of dominant species are important for understanding grassland community dynamics under imbalanced nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) inputs. Here, the effects of N (N0, N50, and N100, corresponding to 0, 50, and 100 kg ha−1 yr−1, respectively) or/and P additions (P0, P40, and P80, corresponding to 0, 40, and 80 kg ha–1 yr–1) on photosynthetic characteristics and leaf economic traits of three dominant species (two grasses: Bothriochloa ischaemum and Stipa bungeana; a leguminous subshrub: Lespedeza davurica) were investigated in a semiarid grassland community on the Loess Plateau of China. Results showed that, after a three-year N addition, all three species had higher specific leaf area (SLA), leaf chlorophyll content (SPAD value), maximum net photosynthetic rate (PNmax), and leaf instantaneous water use efficiency (WUE), while also having a lower leaf dry matter content (LDMC). The two grasses, B. ischaemum and S. bungeana, showed greater increases in PNmax and SLA than the subshrub L. davurica. P addition alone had no noticeable effect on the PNmax of the two grasses while it significantly increased the PNmax of L. davurica. There was an evident synergetic effect of the addition of N and P combined on photosynthetic traits and most leaf economic traits in the three species. All species had relatively high PNmax and SLA under the addition of N50 combined with P40. Overall, this study suggests that N and P addition shifted leaf economic traits towards a greater light harvesting ability and, thus, elevated photosynthesis in the three dominant species of a semiarid grassland community, and this was achieved by species–specific responses in leaf functional traits. These results may provide insights into grassland restoration and the assessment of community development in the context of atmospheric N deposition and intensive agricultural fertilization. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ecophysiology and Ecology of Grassland)
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16 pages, 9047 KiB  
Article
Agents Affecting the Plant Functional Traits in National Soil and Water Conservation Demonstration Park (China)
by Gaohui Duan, Zhongming Wen, Wei Xue, Yuankun Bu, Jinxin Lu, Bojin Wen, Boheng Wang and Sihui Chen
Plants 2022, 11(21), 2891; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants11212891 - 28 Oct 2022
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1236
Abstract
Plant functional traits (PFTs) can reflect the response of plants to environment, objectively expressing the adaptability of plants to the external environment. In previous studies, various relationships between various abiotic factors and PFTs have been reported. However, how these factors work together to [...] Read more.
Plant functional traits (PFTs) can reflect the response of plants to environment, objectively expressing the adaptability of plants to the external environment. In previous studies, various relationships between various abiotic factors and PFTs have been reported. However, how these factors work together to influence PFTs is not clear. This study attempted to quantify the effects of topographic conditions, soil factors and vegetation structure on PFTs. Four categories of variables were represented using 29 variables collected from 171 herb plots of 57 sites (from different topographic and various herb types) in Xindian SWDP. The partial least squares structural equation modeling showed that the topographic conditions and soil properties also have a direct effect on plant functional traits. Among the topographic conditions, slope (SLO) has the biggest weight of 0.629, indicating that SLO contributed the most to plant functional traits and vegetation structure. Among soil properties, maximum water capacity (MWC) contributes the most and is followed by soil water content (SWC), weighted at 0.588 and 0.416, respectively. In a word, the research provides new points into the quantification of the correlation between different drivers that may be important for understanding the mechanisms of resource utilization, competition and adaptation to the environment during plant recovery. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ecophysiology and Ecology of Grassland)
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17 pages, 1191 KiB  
Article
Selected Indices to Identify Water-Stress-Tolerant Tropical Forage Grasses
by Alan Mario Zuffo, Fábio Steiner, Jorge González Aguilera, Rafael Felippe Ratke, Leandra Matos Barrozo, Ricardo Mezzomo, Adaniel Sousa dos Santos, Hebert Hernán Soto Gonzales, Pedro Arias Cubillas and Sheda Méndez Ancca
Plants 2022, 11(18), 2444; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants11182444 - 19 Sep 2022
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 2039
Abstract
Periods of soil water stress have been recurrent in the Cerrado region and have become a growing concern for Brazilian tropical pasture areas. Thus, the search for forage grasses more tolerant to water stress has intensified recently in order to promote more sustainable [...] Read more.
Periods of soil water stress have been recurrent in the Cerrado region and have become a growing concern for Brazilian tropical pasture areas. Thus, the search for forage grasses more tolerant to water stress has intensified recently in order to promote more sustainable livestock. In a greenhouse experiment, the degree of water stress tolerance of nine tropical forage grass cultivars was studied under different soil water regimes. The investigation followed a 9 × 3 factorial design in four randomized blocks. Nine cultivars from five species of perennial forage grasses were tested: Urochloa brizantha (‘BRS Piatã’, ‘Marandu’, and ‘Xaraés’), Panicum maximum (‘Aruana’, ‘Mombaça’, and ‘Tanzânia’), Pennisetum glaucum (‘ADR 300’), Urochloa ruziziensis (‘Comum’), and Paspalum atratum (‘Pojuca’). These cultivars were grown in pots under three soil water regimes (high soil water regime—HSW (non-stressful condition), middle soil water regime—MSW (moderate water stress), and low soil water regime—LSW (severe water stress)). Plants were exposed to soil water stress for 25 days during the tillering and stalk elongation phases. Twelve tolerance indices, including tolerance index (TOL), mean production (MP), yield stability index (YSI), drought resistance index (DI), stress tolerance index (STI), geometric mean production (GMP), yield index (YI), modified stress tolerance (k1STI and k2STI), stress susceptibility percentage index (SSPI), abiotic tolerance index (ATI), and harmonic mean (HM), were calculated based on shoot biomass production under non-stressful (YP) and stressful (YS) conditions. Soil water stress decreased leaf area, plant height, tillering capacity, root volume, and shoot and root dry matter production in most cultivars, with varying degrees of reduction among tropical forage grasses. Based on shoot biomass production under controlled greenhouse conditions, the most water-stress-tolerant cultivars were P. maximum cv. Mombaça and cv. Tanzânia under the MSW regime and P. maximum cv. Aruana and cv. Mombaça under the LSW regime. P. maximum cv. Mombaça has greater adaptability and stability of shoot biomass production when grown under greenhouse conditions and subjected to soil water stress. Therefore, this forage grass should be tested under field conditions to confirm its forage production potential for cultivation in tropical regions with the occurrence of water stress. The MP, DI, STI, GMP, YI, k2STI, and HM tolerance indices were the most suitable for identifying forage grass cultivars with greater water stress tolerance and a high potential for shoot biomass production under LSW regime. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ecophysiology and Ecology of Grassland)
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10 pages, 2760 KiB  
Article
Using Trait-Based Methods to Study the Response of Grassland to Fertilization in the Grassland in Semiarid Areas in the Loess Plateau of China
by Yuting Yang, Zhifei Chen, Bingcheng Xu, Jiaqi Wei, Xiaoxu Zhu, Hongbin Yao and Zhongming Wen
Plants 2022, 11(15), 2045; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants11152045 - 4 Aug 2022
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1666
Abstract
Grassland is the dominant vegetation type in the Loess Plateau, and grassland productivity and processes are limited by nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P). Studies have shown that productivity would change following fertilization in the grassland. The response of productivity to fertilization mainly depends [...] Read more.
Grassland is the dominant vegetation type in the Loess Plateau, and grassland productivity and processes are limited by nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P). Studies have shown that productivity would change following fertilization in the grassland. The response of productivity to fertilization mainly depends on the dominant species traits. Trait-based methods provide a useful tool for explaining the variations in grassland productivity following fertilization. However, the relative contribution of plant functional traits to grassland productivity under N and P addition in the Loess Plateau is not clear. We measured aboveground biomass (AGB) and leaf N content (LN), leaf P content (LP), leaf N/P ratio (LN/P), specific leaf area (SLA), leaf tissue density (LTD), leaf dry matter content (LDMC), and maximum plant height (Hmax) to study how these plant functional traits regulate the relative biomass of different species and grassland productivity following fertilization. Our results showed, that under different nutrient addition levels, the linkages between plant functional traits and the relative biomass of different species were different. Community AGB was positively related to community−weighted mean LN (CWM_LN), CWM_LN/P, CWM_SLA, and CWM_Hmax, but negatively related to CWM_LTD and CWM_LDMC. Dominant species traits largely determined grassland productivity, in line with the mass ratio hypothesis. These findings further highlight the close linkages between community-level functional traits and grassland productivity. Our study contributes to the mechanisms underlying biodiversity–ecosystem function relationships and has significance for guiding semiarid grassland management. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ecophysiology and Ecology of Grassland)
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16 pages, 1442 KiB  
Article
Biogeographic Patterns of Leaf Element Stoichiometry of Stellera chamaejasme L. in Degraded Grasslands on Inner Mongolia Plateau and Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau
by Lizhu Guo, Li Liu, Huizhen Meng, Li Zhang, Valdson José Silva, Huan Zhao, Kun Wang, Wei He and Ding Huang
Plants 2022, 11(15), 1943; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants11151943 - 26 Jul 2022
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1636
Abstract
Plant leaf stoichiometry reflects its adaptation to the environment. Leaf stoichiometry variations across different environments have been extensively studied in grassland plants, but little is known about intraspecific leaf stoichiometry, especially for widely distributed species, such as Stellera chamaejasme L. We present the [...] Read more.
Plant leaf stoichiometry reflects its adaptation to the environment. Leaf stoichiometry variations across different environments have been extensively studied in grassland plants, but little is known about intraspecific leaf stoichiometry, especially for widely distributed species, such as Stellera chamaejasme L. We present the first study on the leaf stoichiometry of S. chamaejasme and evaluate its relationships with environmental variables. S. chamaejasme leaf and soil samples from 29 invaded sites in the two plateaus of distinct environments [the Inner Mongolian Plateau (IM) and Qinghai-Tibet Plateau (QT)] in Northern China were collected. Leaf C, N, P, and K and their stoichiometric ratios, and soil physicochemical properties were determined and compared with climate information from each sampling site. The results showed that mean leaf C, N, P, and K concentrations were 498.60, 19.95, 2.15, and 6.57 g kg−1; the average C:N, C:P, N:P, N:K and K:P ratios were 25.20, 245.57, 9.81, 3.13, and 3.21, respectively. The N:P:K-ratios in S. chamaejasme leaf might imply that its growth is restricted by K- or K+N. Moreover, the soil physicochemical properties in the S. chamaejasme-infested areas varied remarkably, and few significant correlations between S. chamaejasme leaf ecological stoichiometry and soil physicochemical properties were observed. These indicate the nutrient concentrations and stoichiometry of S. chamaejasme tend to be insensitive to variations in the soil nutrient availability, resulting in their broad distributions in China’s grasslands. Besides, different homeostasis strength of the C, N, K, and their ratios in S. chamaejasme leaves across all sites were observed, which means S. chamaejasme could be more conservative in their use of nutrients improving their adaptation to diverse conditions. Moreover, the leaf C and N contents of S. chamaejasm were unaffected by any climate factors. However, the correlation between leaf P content and climate factors was significant only in IM, while the leaf K happened to be significant in QT. Besides, MAP or MAT contribution was stronger in the leaf elements than soil by using mixed effects models, which illustrated once more the relatively weak effect of the soil physicochemical properties on the leaf elements. Finally, partial least squares path modeling suggested that leaf P or K contents were affected by different mechanisms in QT and IM regions, suggesting that S. chamaejasme can adapt to changing environments by adjusting its relationships with the climate or soil factors to improve its survival opportunities in degraded grasslands. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ecophysiology and Ecology of Grassland)
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16 pages, 3607 KiB  
Article
The Effect of Soil Water Deficiency on Water Use Strategies and Response Mechanisms of Glycyrrhiza uralensis Fisch
by Kechen Song, Haiying Hu, Yingzhong Xie and Li Fu
Plants 2022, 11(11), 1464; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants11111464 - 30 May 2022
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 1403
Abstract
We aimed to investigate the water use strategies and the responses to water shortages in Glycyrrhiza uralensis, which is a dominant species in the desert steppe. Water stress gradients included control, mild, moderate, and severe. The time intervals were 15, 30, 45, [...] Read more.
We aimed to investigate the water use strategies and the responses to water shortages in Glycyrrhiza uralensis, which is a dominant species in the desert steppe. Water stress gradients included control, mild, moderate, and severe. The time intervals were 15, 30, 45, and 60 d. Our study suggested that with the aggravation of water stress intensity, the total biomass of Glycyrrhiza uralensis gradually decreased and allometric growth was preferred to underground biomass accumulation. From 30 d and mild to moderate water stress, the water potential (WP) of leaves decreased considerably compared to the CK. The relative water content (EWC) decreased over time and had a narrow range of variation. Proline (PR) was continuously increased, then declined at 45–60 d under severe and more severe water stress. The δ13C values increased in all organs, showed roots > stems > leaves. The net photosynthetic rate (Pn) and transpiration rate (Tr) decreased to varying degrees. The instantaneous water use efficiency (WUEi) and limiting value of stomata (Ls) increased continuously at first and decreased under severe water stress. Meanwhile, severe water stress triggered the most significant changes in chloroplast and guard cell morphology. In summary, Glycyrrhiza uralensis could maintain water content and turgor pressure under water stress, promote root biomass accumulation, and improve water use efficiency, a water-conservation strategy indicating a mechanism both avoidable dehydration and tolerable drought. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ecophysiology and Ecology of Grassland)
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16 pages, 5599 KiB  
Article
Comparative Assessment of Grassland Dynamic and Its Response to Drought Based on Multi-Index in the Mongolian Plateau
by Yanzhen Zhang, Zhaoqi Wang, Qian Wang, Yue Yang, Yaojun Bo, Weizhou Xu and Jianlong Li
Plants 2022, 11(3), 310; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants11030310 - 25 Jan 2022
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 2519
Abstract
This study applied grassland related multi-index and assessed the effects of climate change by investigating grassland responses to drought. This process was performed to study grassland vegetation dynamic accurately and evaluate the effect of drought in the Mongolian Plateau (MP). The spatial–temporal characteristics [...] Read more.
This study applied grassland related multi-index and assessed the effects of climate change by investigating grassland responses to drought. This process was performed to study grassland vegetation dynamic accurately and evaluate the effect of drought in the Mongolian Plateau (MP). The spatial–temporal characteristics of grassland dynamic in terms of coverage (Fv), surface bareness (Fb), and net primary production (NPP) from 2000 to 2013 were explored. We implemented the maximum Pearson correlation to analyze the grassland vegetation in response to drought by using self-calibrating Palmer Drought Severity Index (scPDSI). Results show that Fv and NPP present an increasing trend (0.18 vs. 0.43). Fb showed a decreasing trend with a value of −0.16. The grassland Fv and NPP positively correlated with scPDSI, with a value of 0.12 and 0.85, respectively, and Fb was −0.08. The positive correlation between Fv and NPP accounted for 84.08%, and the positive correlation between Fv and scPDSI accounted for 93.88%. On the contrary, the area with a negative correlation between Fb and scPDSI was 57.43%. The grassland in the MP showed a recovery tendency. The increase in grassland caused by positive reaction was mainly distributed in the middle of Mongolia (MG), whereas that caused by counter response was mainly distributed in the east and west MG and northeast Inner Mongolia autonomous region of China (IM). The relevant results may provide useful information for policymakers about mitigation strategies against the inverse effects of drought on grassland and help to ease the losses caused by drought. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ecophysiology and Ecology of Grassland)
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21 pages, 3532 KiB  
Article
The Influence of Climate Warming and Humidity on Plant Diversity and Soil Bacteria and Fungi Diversity in Desert Grassland
by Yi Zhang, Yingzhong Xie, Hongbin Ma, Juan Zhang, Le Jing, Yutao Wang and Jianping Li
Plants 2021, 10(12), 2580; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants10122580 - 25 Nov 2021
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 2128
Abstract
Our study, which was conducted in the desert grassland of Ningxia in China (E 107.285, N 37.763), involved an experiment with five levels of annual precipitation 33% (R33), 66% (R66), 100% (CK), 133% (R133), 166% (R166) and two temperature levels (inside Open-Top Chamber [...] Read more.
Our study, which was conducted in the desert grassland of Ningxia in China (E 107.285, N 37.763), involved an experiment with five levels of annual precipitation 33% (R33), 66% (R66), 100% (CK), 133% (R133), 166% (R166) and two temperature levels (inside Open-Top Chamber (OTC) and outside OTC). Our objective was to determine how plant, soil bacteria, and fungi diversity respond to climate change. Our study suggested that plant α-diversity in CK and TCK were significantly higher than that of other treatments. Increased precipitation promoted root biomass (RB) growth more than aboveground living biomass (ALB). R166 promoted the biomass of Agropyron mongolicum the most. In the fungi communities, temperature and precipitation interaction promoted α-diversity. In the fungi communities, the combination of increased temperature and natural precipitation (TCK) promoted β-diversity the most, whose distance was determined to be 25,124 according to PCA. In the bacteria communities, β-diversity in CK was significantly higher than in other treatments, and the distance was determined to be 3010 according to PCA. Soil bacteria and fungi α- and β-diversity, and ALB promoted plant diversity the most. The interactive effects of temperature and precipitation on C, N, and P contents of plants were larger than their independent effects. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ecophysiology and Ecology of Grassland)
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11 pages, 1131 KiB  
Article
Spatial Distribution Patterns and Driving Factors of Plant Biomass and Leaf N, P Stoichiometry on the Loess Plateau of China
by Zhao Fang, Xiaoyu Han, Mingyang Xie and Feng Jiao
Plants 2021, 10(11), 2420; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants10112420 - 9 Nov 2021
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 2252
Abstract
Understanding the geographic patterns and potential drivers of leaf stoichiometry and plant biomass is critical for modeling the biogeochemical cycling of ecosystems and to forecast the responses of ecosystems to global changes. Therefore, we studied the spatial patterns and potential drivers of leaf [...] Read more.
Understanding the geographic patterns and potential drivers of leaf stoichiometry and plant biomass is critical for modeling the biogeochemical cycling of ecosystems and to forecast the responses of ecosystems to global changes. Therefore, we studied the spatial patterns and potential drivers of leaf stoichiometry and herb biomass from 15 sites spanning from south to north along a 500 km latitudinal gradient of the Loess Plateau. We found that leaf N and P stoichiometry and the biomass of herb plants varied greatly on the Loess Plateau, showing spatial patterns, and there were significant differences among the four vegetation zones. With increasing latitude (decreasing mean annual temperature and decreasing mean precipitation), aboveground and belowground biomass displayed an opening downward parabolic trend, while the root–shoot ratio gradually decreased. Furthermore, there were significant linear relationships between the leaf nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) contents and latitude and climate (mean annual rainfall and mean annual temperature). However, the leaf N/P ratio showed no significant latitudinal or climatic trends. Redundancy analysis and stepwise regression analysis revealed herb biomass and leaf N and P contents were strongly related to environmental driving factors (slope, soil P content and latitude, altitude, mean annual rainfall and mean annual temperature). Compared with global scale results, herb plants on the Loess Plateau are characterized by relatively lower biomass, higher N content, lower P content and a higher N/P ratio, and vegetative growth may be more susceptible to P limitation. These findings indicated that the remarkable spatial distribution patterns of leaf N and P stoichiometry and herb biomass were jointly regulated by the climate, soil properties and topographic properties, providing new insights into potential vegetation restoration strategies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ecophysiology and Ecology of Grassland)
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Review

Jump to: Editorial, Research

31 pages, 3175 KiB  
Review
Research Progress of Grassland Ecosystem Structure and Stability and Inspiration for Improving Its Service Capacity in the Karst Desertification Control
by Shuyu He, Kangning Xiong, Shuzhen Song, Yongkuan Chi, Jinzhong Fang and Chen He
Plants 2023, 12(4), 770; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants12040770 - 8 Feb 2023
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 5854
Abstract
The structure and stability of grassland ecosystems have a significant impact on biodiversity, material cycling and productivity for ecosystem services. However, the issue of the structure and stability of grassland ecosystems has not been systematically reviewed. Based on the Web of Science (WOS) [...] Read more.
The structure and stability of grassland ecosystems have a significant impact on biodiversity, material cycling and productivity for ecosystem services. However, the issue of the structure and stability of grassland ecosystems has not been systematically reviewed. Based on the Web of Science (WOS) and China National Knowledge Infrastructure (CNKI) databases, we used the systematic-review method and screened 133 papers to describe and analyze the frontiers of research into the structure and stability of grassland ecosystems. The research results showed that: (1) The number of articles about the structure and stability of grassland ecosystems is gradually increasing, and the research themes are becoming increasingly diverse. (2) There is a high degree of consistency between the study area and the spatial distribution of grassland. (3) Based on the changes in ecosystem patterns and their interrelationships with ecosystem processes, we reviewed the research progress and landmark results on the structure, stability, structure–stability relationship and their influencing factors of grassland ecosystems; among them, the study of structure is the main research focus (51.12%), followed by the study of the influencing factors of structure and stability (37.57%). (4) Key scientific questions on structural optimization, stability enhancement and harmonizing the relationship between structure and stability are explored. (5) Based on the background of karst desertification control (KDC) and its geographical characteristics, three insights are proposed to optimize the spatial allocation, enhance the stability of grassland for rocky desertification control and coordinate the regulation mechanism of grassland structure and stability. This study provided some references for grassland managers and relevant policy makers to optimize the structure and enhance the stability of grassland ecosystems. It also provided important insights to enhance the service capacity of grassland ecosystems in KDC. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ecophysiology and Ecology of Grassland)
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