Effects of plateau pika activities on seasonal plant biomass and soil properties in the alpine meadow ecosystems of the Tibetan Plateau

Feida Sun*, Wenye Chen, Lin Liu, Wei Liu, Yimin Cai, Pete Smith

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The foraging and burrowing activities of small mammalian herbivores may have either detrimental or beneficial effects on grassland ecosystems; the direction of the effect is determined by the species, population abundances and fluctuations. Twelve survey sites with active burrow of plateau pika were classified into four degrees of density: approximately zero-density, low-density, medium-density and high-density, to evaluate the impact of different pika densities on vegetation, plant biomass, soil organic carbon and nutrients in a whole growing season. We show that pika as a main supplement to livestock activities contributed to a decrease in the number of plant species, vegetation cover, plant height and seasonal mean biomass, while values at medium-density site except above-ground biomass were the lowest. With the exception of available potassium, soil organic carbon, nitrogen, total phosphorus and soil water content, zero-density areas were significantly higher than those of pika occupied areas. However, there were slight or no differences in vegetation characteristics and soil properties between medium-and high-density sites. Our study suggests pika activities with high-density made palatable forage less and soil carbon and nitrogen more than low-density, moreover, plateau pika had greater impacts on above-ground vegetation than on root system.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)195-203
Number of pages9
JournalGrassland science
Volume61
Issue number4
Early online date6 Nov 2015
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2015

Keywords

  • Biomass allocation
  • integrated pests management (IPM)
  • roots:shoots (R:S)
  • soil organic carbon
  • soil organic carbon density
  • ZOKORS MYOSPALAX-FONTANIERII
  • OCHOTONA-CURZONIAE
  • PRAIRIE DOG
  • MAMMALIAN HERBIVORES
  • QINGHAI-TIBET
  • COMMUNITY
  • BIODIVERSITY
  • MANAGEMENT
  • ALLOCATION
  • GRASSLAND

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