Effects of grazing and fertilization on the relationship between species abundance and functional traits in an alpine meadow community on the Tibetan Plateau

Authors

  • Wei Li,

    1. State Key Lab of Soil Erosion and Dryland Farming on the Loess Plateau, Northwest Agriculture and Forestry Univ., CN-712100 Yangling, Shaanxi, PR China.
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  • Fu-Ping Tian,

    1. State Key Lab of Soil Erosion and Dryland Farming on the Loess Plateau, Northwest Agriculture and Forestry Univ., CN-712100 Yangling, Shaanxi, PR China.
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  • Zheng-Wei Ren,

    1. State Key Lab of Soil Erosion and Dryland Farming on the Loess Plateau, Northwest Agriculture and Forestry Univ., CN-712100 Yangling, Shaanxi, PR China.
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  • Hai-Zhou Huang,

    1. State Key Lab of Soil Erosion and Dryland Farming on the Loess Plateau, Northwest Agriculture and Forestry Univ., CN-712100 Yangling, Shaanxi, PR China.
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  • Zhi-Nan Zhang

    1. State Key Lab of Soil Erosion and Dryland Farming on the Loess Plateau, Northwest Agriculture and Forestry Univ., CN-712100 Yangling, Shaanxi, PR China.
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W. Li, State Key Lab of Soil Erosion and Dryland Farming on the Loess Plateau, Northwest Agriculture and Forestry Univ., CN-712100 Yangling, Shaanxi, PR China. WL also at: Inst. of Soil and Water Conservation of Chinese Academy of Sciences and Ministry of Water Resource, CN-712100 Yangling, Shaanxi, PR China. E-mail: liwei20116@gmail.com

Abstract

Trait-based approaches can provide a useful tool for linking plant attributes to community structure and ecosystem function. Seed mass and plant height play important roles in the dynamics of plant communities, but few empirical community level studies have tested this, especially in stressful environments. The aim of the present study was to determine if there is a relationship between functional traits (seed mass and plant height) and changes in species relative abundance (SRA) in response to grazing and fertilization. We measured SRA and plant functional traits for 40 common species in a Tibetan Plateau alpine meadow. In the fertilized meadow, seed mass and plant height was significantly positively correlated with the relative abundance of the species. In the grazed meadow, these variables were significantly negatively correlated. Our results demonstrates that plant functional traits can be used to predict the change of SRA in plant community. Grazing promotes the dominance of small-seeded and short-stature species, and fertilization facilitates the occurrence of large-seeded and tall-stature species.

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