Articles | Volume 10, issue 3
Research article
13 Mar 2013
Research article |  | 13 Mar 2013

Meta-analysis of relationships between environmental factors and aboveground biomass in the alpine grassland on the Tibetan Plateau

J. Sun, G. W. Cheng, and W. P. Li

Abstract. The Tibetan Plateau, known as the "world's third pole" for its extremely harsh and fragile ecological environment, has attracted great attention because of its sensitivity to global changes. Alpine grassland on the Tibetan Plateau has an important function in the global carbon cycle. Many studies have examined the effects of various environmental factors on biomass distribution. In this study, the relationships between the habitat parameters and the aboveground biomass (AGB) abundance on the Tibetan Plateau were examined through a meta-analysis of 110 field sites across the widely distributed alpine steppe and meadow. The obtained data were then analysed using the classification and regression tree model and the generalized additive model. The results showed that the AGB abundance in alpine steppe was positively correlated with six environmental factors, namely, soil organic carbon density of the top soil layer from 0 cm to 30 cm (SOC30 cm), longitude, mean annual precipitation (MAP), latitude, clay, and soil moisture. For the alpine meadow, five main factors were detected, namely, altitude, soil moisture, nitrogen, MAP, and mean annual temperature. The increased AGB abundance in the alpine steppe was associated with the increased SOC30 cm, MAP, and latitude, and the increased longitude resulted in decreased AGB abundance. For the alpine meadow, altitude and soil moisture showed strongly negative effects on AGB abundance, and soil nitrogen content was positively related to the AGB distribution across all examined sites. Our results suggest the combined effects of meteorological, topographic, and soil factors on the spatial patterns of AGB on the Tibetan Plateau.

Final-revised paper