The density of active burrows of plateau pika in relation to biomass allocation in the alpine meadow ecosystems of the Tibetan Plateau

Feida Sun*, Wenye Chen, Lin Liu, Wei Liu, Chengxiang Lu, Pete Smith

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


Understanding the relationships between plateau pika population and plants biomass is essential for improving small herbivores management in alpine meadow ecosystems. Four degrees of active burrow densities were classified to evaluate pika populations and biomass allocation interactions. Our results showed that plant composition, overall vegetation height and cover, dominant species were significantly different among four sites. Additionally, plant functional groups, above ground, below ground and total biomass, root:shoot ratios and the living roots proportion were the greatest at the zero-density site, and those at the medium-density site were the lowest. We postulate that pika activities may not be the cause of the differences, but a symptom of grassland degradation. Further, pika population fluctuations should be monitored, and when the population exceeds the economic threshold of low-density (110 pikas or/and 512 active burrows ha(-1)) or reaches high-density (200 pikas or/and 1360 active burrows ha(-1)), integrated management strategies should be implemented to protect damage. (C) 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)257-264
Number of pages8
JournalBiochemical Systematics and Ecology
Early online date16 Jan 2015
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2015


  • Active burrow
  • Plateau pika activity
  • Plugging tunnels method (PTM)
  • Root system

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