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Journal of Arid Land

Article Title

Effects of grazing on net primary productivity, evapotranspiration and water use efficiency in the grasslands of Xinjiang, China

Abstract

Grazing is a main human activity in the grasslands of Xinjiang, China. It is vital to identify the effects of grazing on the sustainable utilization of local grasslands. However, the effects of grazing on net primary productivity (NPP), evapotranspiration (ET) and water use efficiency (WUE) in this region remain unclear. Using the spatial Biome-BGC grazing model, we explored the effects of grazing on NPP, ET and WUE across the different regions and grassland types in Xinjiang during 1979–2012. NPP, ET and WUE under the grazed scenario were generally lower than those under the ungrazed scenario, and the differences showed increasing trends over time. The decreases in NPP, ET and WUE varied significantly among the regions and grassland types. NPP decreased as follows: among the regions, Northern Xinjiang (16.60 g C/(m2•a)), Tianshan Mountains (15.94 g C/(m2•a)) and Southern Xinjiang (−3.54 g C/(m2•a)); and among the grassland types, typical grasslands (25.70 g C/(m2•a)), swamp meadows (25.26 g C/(m2•a)), mid-mountain meadows (23.39 g C/(m2•a)), alpine meadows (6.33 g C/(m2•a)), desert grasslands (5.82 g C/(m2•a)) and saline meadows (2.90 g C/(m2•a)). ET decreased as follows: among the regions, Tianshan Mountains (28.95 mm/a), Northern Xinjiang (8.11 mm/a) and Southern Xinjiang (7.57 mm/a); and among the grassland types, mid-mountain meadows (29.30 mm/a), swamp meadows (25.07 mm/a), typical grasslands (24.56 mm/a), alpine meadows (20.69 mm/a), desert grasslands (11.06 mm/a) and saline meadows (3.44 mm/a). WUE decreased as follows: among the regions, Northern Xinjiang (0.053 g C/kg H2O), Tianshan Mountains (0.034 g C/kg H2O) and Southern Xinjiang (0.012 g C/kg H2O); and among the grassland types, typical grasslands (0.0609 g C/kg H2O), swamp meadows (0.0548 g C/kg H2O), mid-mountain meadows (0.0501 g C/kg H2O), desert grasslands (0.0172 g C/kg H2O), alpine meadows (0.0121 g C/kg H2O) and saline meadows (0.0067 g C/kg H2O). In general, the decreases in NPP and WUE were more significant in the regions with relatively high levels of vegetation growth because of the high grazing intensity in these regions. The decreases in ET were significant in mountainous areas due to the terrain and high grazing intensity.

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