Effects of grazing exclusion on soil properties and on ecosystem carbon and nitrogen storage in a sandy rangeland of Inner Mongolia, Northern China

Yinping Chen, Yuqiang Li, Xueyong Zhao, Wen Shang, Juanjuan Han, Tala Awada

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Scopus citations

Abstract

The Horqin sandy rangeland of northern China is a seriously desertified region with a fragile ecology.The sandy alluvial and aeolian sediments have a coarse texture and loose structure and are therefore vulnerable to damage caused by grazing animals and wind erosion. We investigated whether grazing exclusion could enhance ecosystem carbon (C) and nitrogen (N) storage and thereby improve overall soil quality. We compared soil properties, C and N storage in biomass (aboveground and below-ground), and the total and light fraction soil organic matter between adjacent areas with continuous grazing and a 12-year grazing exclosure. The soil silt ? clay content, organic C, total Kjeldahl N, available N and K, and cation-exchange capacity were significantly (P<0.05) greater in the exclosure.We found that to a depth of 100 cm, the exclosure plots had greater light fraction C storage (by 267.2 g m-2 = 73.3 %), light fraction N storage (by 16.6 g m-2 = 105.7 %), total soil C storage (by 1174.4 g m-2 = 43.9 %), and total N storage (by 91.1 g m -2 = 31.3 %). Biomass C and N storage were also 205.0 and 8.0 g m-2 greater (154.8 and 181.8 %, respectively). The increase was greatest in the light fraction organic matter and biomass and decreased with increasing depth in the soil. The results suggest that light fraction C and N respond more rapidly than total soil C and N to grazing exclusion and that vegetation recovers faster than soil.Our results confirmed that the degraded sandy rangeland is recovering and sequestering C after the removal of grazing pressure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)622-632
Number of pages11
JournalEnvironmental Management
Volume50
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 2012
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Biomass and soil
  • Desertification
  • Grazing management
  • Horqin sandy land
  • Restoration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Ecology
  • Pollution

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