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Keywords:

  • Seasonal and moderate grazing;
  • plant production;
  • soil respiration;
  • alpine meadow;
  • Tibetan plateau

Abstract

Little research has been conducted on how to balance plant production and soil respiration (Rs) under seasonal grazing patterns in alpine meadows. Our results from 2009 to 2012 showed that warm season grazing (WG) from June to September significantly increased aboveground net primary production compared with no-grazing (NG), except in 2010, and compared with cold season grazing (CG) except in 2012, while there were no significant differences between NG and CG except in 2009. In both WG and CG treatments, grazing increased root biomass at 0–40 cm depth compared with NG, except in 2011. WG and CG only significantly increased seasonal Rs in 2009. Daily Rs was mainly affected by soil temperature, which explained 40–49% of the variation in daily Rs for all grazing treatments. Seasonal Rs from July to September was significantly influenced by soil temperature and root biomass, which explained 55% of the variation in seasonal Rs for all grazing treatments. Therefore, relative to NG, regardless of WG and CG, moderate grazing significantly increased plant production and had little influence on soil respiration in this alpine region.