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01.01.2014 | Original Article | Ausgabe 2/2014

Environmental Earth Sciences 2/2014

The effect of desertification on carbon and nitrogen status in the northeastern margin of the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau

Zeitschrift:
Environmental Earth Sciences > Ausgabe 2/2014
Autoren:
Junfeng Lu, Zhibao Dong, Wenjin Li, Guangyin Hu

Abstract

Environmental degradation resulting from desertification often accelerates biodiversity loss and alters carbon (C) and nitrogen (N) stocks within grassland ecosystem. In order to evaluate the effect of desertification on plant diversity and carbon (C) and nitrogen (N) stocks, species compositions and C and N contents in plants and soil were investigated along five regions with different degrees of desertification in the northeastern margin of the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau (control, light, moderate, severe and very severe stages). The study showed: (1) species composition and richness changed significantly with the development of grassland desertification; (2) the aboveground biomass C and N contents in the control were 101.60 and 4.03 g m−2, respectively. Compared to the control, the aboveground tissue C and N contents significantly decreased from light, moderate, severe to very severe stages. (3) The root C and N contents in the control in 0–40 cm depth are 1,372.83 and 31.49 g m−2, respectively, while the root C and N contents in 0–40 cm were also declining from the control, light, moderate, severe to very severe stages. (4) Compared to the plant, the soil made a greater contribution for C and N distribution, in which the soil organic C and total N contents in 0–40 cm depth in the control are 20,386.70 and 3,587.89 g m−2, respectively. At the same time, soil organic C and N contents also decreased significantly from the control to very severe stages. These results suggest that grassland desertification not only alters species compositions and leads to the loss of plant diversity, but also results in greater loss of organic C and N in alpine meadow, in which there is a negative effect on reducing greenhouse gas emission.

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