Effects of Grassland Degradation and Re-vegetation on Carbon and Nitrogen Storage in the Soils of the Headwater Area Nature Reserve on the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau, China Effects of Grassland Degradation and Re-vegetation on Carbon and Nitrogen Storage in the Soils of the Headwater Area Nature Reserve on the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau, China

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Vol12 No.3:582-591

Title】Effects of Grassland Degradation and Re-vegetation on Carbon and Nitrogen Storage in the Soils of the Headwater Area Nature Reserve on the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau, China

Author】SU Xu-kun; WU Yu; DONG Shi-kui; WEN Lu; LI Yuan-yuan; WANG Xue-xia

Addresses】School of Environment, Beijing Normal University, Beijing 100875, China

Corresponding author】dongshikui@sina.com

Citation】Su XK, Wu Y, Dong SK, et al. (2015) Effects of grassland degradation and re-vegetation on carbon and nitrogen storage in the soils of the Headwater Area Nature Reserve on the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau, China. Journal of Mountain Science 12(3). DOI: 10.1007/s11629-014-3043-z

DOI】10.1007/s11629-014-3043-z

Abstract】Both overgrazing and climate change contribute to grassland degradation in the alpine regions of China and negatively affect soil carbon and nitrogen pools. We quantified changes in soil organic carbon (SOC) and total nitrogen (TN) in black soil beach (BSB). We measured SOC and TN in severely degraded and non-degraded grasslands to calculate differences in carbon and nitrogen storage, and field survey results were extrapolated to the entire headwaters area of the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau (36.3×105 km2) to determine SOC and TN losses from these grasslands. We also evaluated changes in SOC and TN in severely degraded grasslands that were artificially re-vegetated five, seven and nine years ago. Totally 92.43 Tg C and 7.08 Tg N were lost from the BSB in the headwater area, which was approximately 50% of the original C and N soil pools. Re-vegetation of the degraded grasslands in the headwater area would result in a gain of 32.71 Tg C in the soil after five years, a loss of 5.52 Tg C after seven years and an increase of 44.15 Tg C after nine years. The TN increased by 53.09% and 59.98% after five and nine years, respectively, while it decreased by 4.92% after seven years of re-vegetation. The results indicate that C and N stocks followed a “V” shaped pattern with re-vegetation time. Understanding plant-soil interactions during succession of artificially planting grassland ecosystems is essential for developing scientifically sound management strategies for the effectively re-vegetated BSB.

Keywords】Black soil beach; Grassland degradation; Soil loss; Revegetation; Alpine grasslands; Soil carbon sequestration; Soil nitrogen sequestration