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Climatic Change

, Volume 118, Issue 2, pp 197–212 | Cite as

Effects of rainfall amount and frequency on vegetation growth in a Tibetan alpine meadow

  • Baocheng ZhangEmail author
  • Junji Cao
  • Yanfen Bai
  • Xuhui ZhouEmail author
  • Zhigang Ning
  • Songjie Yang
  • Lin Hu
Article

Abstract

Over the past decades, rainfall amount and frequency changed considerably on the Tibetan Plateau. However, how altered rainfall pattern affects vegetation growth and phenology in Tibetan alpine grasslands is poorly understood. In this study, we investigated the long-term effects of rainfall amount and frequency on production (i.e., aboveground biomass, AGB) and phenology of three perennial plants in a Tibetan alpine meadow from 1994 to 2005. Growth period (i.e., the dates from greening to senescence) was referred to plant phenology here. Our results showed that annual precipitation and total rainfall from large events (≥ 5 mm per day) were mainly distributed in the growing season, which increased significantly from 1994 to 2005 with more increment in May and July (p < 0.05). Total AGB and growth periods of three plants were linearly correlated with annual precipitation and total rainfall from large events, but have insignificant correlations with total rainfall from small events (< 5 mm per day) and rainfall frequency (including small, large, and all events). The results suggest that aboveground plant production and phenology are more sensitive to changes in large rainfall events (≥ 5 mm per day) than small events (< 5 mm per day) in the alpine meadow ecosystems.

Keywords

Rainfall Event Growth Period Aboveground Biomass Rainfall Pattern Total Rainfall 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Notes

Acknowledgments

The authors thank the five anonymous reviewers for the insightful comments on the manuscript. This research was financially supported by China eleventh and twelfth 5-year plan science and technology support project (2007BAC30B00 and 2012BAH31B03), and sponsored by 2012 Shanghai Pujiang Program (12PJ1401400), Thousand Young Talents Program in China, and The Program for Professor of Special Appointment (Eastern Scholar) at Shanghai Institutions of Higher Learning.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.State Key Lab of Loess and Quaternary Geology, Institute of Earth EnvironmentChinese Academy of SciencesXi’anChina
  2. 2.Coastal Ecosystems Research Station of the Yangtze River Estuary, Ministry of Education Key Laboratory for Biodiversity Science and Ecological Engineering, The Institute of Biodiversity ScienceFudan UniversityShanghaiChina
  3. 3.Cold and Arid Regions Environmental and Engineering Research InstituteChinese Academy of SciencesLanzhouChina
  4. 4.Shaanxi Changqing National Natural ReserveYang CountyChina
  5. 5.College of Agriculture and life sciencesAnkang UniversityAnkangChina

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