Articles | Volume 11, issue 7
Research article
03 Apr 2014
Research article |  | 03 Apr 2014

Response of carbon dioxide emissions to sheep grazing and N application in an alpine grassland – Part 1: Effect of sheep grazing

Y. M. Gong, A. Mohammat, X. J. Liu, K. H. Li, P. Christie, F. Fang, W. Song, Y. H. Chang, W. X. Han, X. T. Lü, Y. Y. Liu, and Y. K. Hu

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.

Final-revised paper