Response of carbon dioxide emissions to sheep grazing and N application in an alpine grassland – Part 1: Effect of sheep grazing
- 1Key Laboratory of Biogeography and Bioresource in Arid Land, Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Urumqi, 830011, China
- 2College of Resources and Environmental Sciences, China Agricultural University, Beijing, 100193, China
- 3Agri-Environment Branch, Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute, Belfast BT9 5PX, UK
- 4State Key Laboratory of Earth Surface Processes and Resource Ecology, Institute of Resources Science, College of Resources Science and Technology, Beijing Normal University, Beijing, 100875, China
- 5Graduate University of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, 100039, China
- 6State Key Laboratory of Forest and Soil Ecology, Institute of Applied Ecology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shenyang, 110164, China
Abstract. Previous work has failed to address fully the response of (autotrophic and heterotrophic) respiration to grazing in different ecosystems, particularly in alpine grasslands outside the growing season. From 2010 to 2011 a field experiment combined two methods (static closed chambers and a closed dynamic soil CO2 flux system) in alpine grasslands located in the Tianshan Mountains. We examined the effects of grazing regime on ecosystem respiration (Re) both outside (NGS) and during (GS) the growing season and determined the pattern of Re in relation to climate change. There was no significant change in CO2 emissions under grazing. Heterotrophic respiration (Rh) accounted for 78.5% of Re with short-term grazing exclusion and 93.2% of Re with long-term grazing exclusion. Re, Rh and autotrophic respiration (Ra) fluxes outside the growing season were equivalent to 12.9%, 14.1% and 11.4% of the respective CO2 fluxes during the growing season. In addition, our results indicate that soil water content played a critical role in Ra in the cold and arid environment. Both Rh and Re were sensitive to soil temperature. Moreover, our results suggest that grazing exerted no significant effect on CO2 emissions in these alpine grasslands.