Advertisement

Plant and Soil

, Volume 340, Issue 1–2, pp 141–155 | Cite as

Differential responses of plant functional trait to grazing between two contrasting dominant C3 and C4 species in a typical steppe of Inner Mongolia, China

  • Shuxia Zheng
  • Zhichun Lan
  • Wenhuai Li
  • Ruixin Shao
  • Yumei Shan
  • Hongwei Wan
  • Friedhelm Taube
  • Yongfei BaiEmail author
Regular Article

Abstract

Plant functional traits have been widely used to study the linkage between environmental drivers, trade-offs among different functions within a plant, and ecosystem structure and functioning. Here, the whole-plant traits, leaf morphological and physiological traits of two dominant species, Leymus chinensis (C3 perennial rhizome grass) and Cleistogenes squarrosa (C4 perennial bunchgrass), were studied in the Inner Mongolia grassland of China, with a grazing experiment including five stocking rates (0, 3.0, 4.5, 7.5, and 9.0 sheep/ha) in 2008 (wet year) and 2009 (dry year). Our results demonstrated that, for both species, the effects of stocking rate, year, and stocking rate × year on whole-plant traits and leaf morphological and physiological traits were highly significant in most cases. The differential responses of plant trait to variation in precipitation were caused by trait trade-offs between the wet and dry years. L. chinensis adopted the high N content and net photosynthetic rate (Pn) in the wet year but both the low N content and Pn in the dry year under grazed conditions. The trait trade-offs of C. squarrosa were characterized by high specific leaf area (SLA) and Pn in the dry year vs. low SLA and Pn in the wet year. Our findings also indicate that C. squarrosa is more resistant to grazing than L. chinensis in terms of avoidance and tolerance traits, particularly under heavy grazing pressure and in the dry year.

Keywords

Grazing Whole-plant trait Leaf morphological trait Leaf physiological trait Stocking rate Leymus chinensis Cleistogenes squarrosa 

Notes

Acknowledgements

We thank S. P. Chen for providing meteorological data of the study site. This research was supported financially by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (30825008, 30900193) and the State Key Basic Research Development Program of China (2009CB421102).

Supplementary material

11104_2010_369_MOESM1_ESM.doc (118 kb)
Appendix 1 Correlations between whole plant traits, leaf morphological and physiological traits at no grazing, low and high grazing intensities (DOC 117 kb)

Reference

  1. Adler PB, Milchunas DG, Lauenroth WK, Sala OE, Burke IC (2004) Functional traits of graminoids in semi-arid steppes: a test of grazing histories. J Appl Ecol 41:653–663CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Adler PB, Milchunas DG, Sala OE, Burke IC, Lauenroth WK (2005) Plant traits and ecosystem grazing effects: comparison of US sagebrush steppe and Patagonian steppe. Ecol Appl 15:774–792CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Auerswald K, Wittmer MHOM, Männel TT, Bai YF, Schäufele R, Schnyder H (2009) Large regional-scale variation in C3/C4 distribution pattern of Inner Mongolia steppe is revealed by grazer wool carbon isotope composition. Biogeosciences 6:795–805CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bai YF, Li LH, Wang QB, Zhang LX, Zhang Y, Chen ZZ (2000) Changes in plant species diversity and productivity along gradients of precipitation and elevation in the Xilin River Basin, Inner Mongolia. Acta Phytoecologica Sinica 24:667–673Google Scholar
  5. Bai YF, Han XG, Wu JG, Chen ZZ, Li LH (2004) Ecosystem stability and compensatory effects in the Inner Mongolia grassland. Nature 431:181–184CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. Bai YF, Wu JG, Pan QM, Huang JH, Wang QB, Li FS, Buyantuyev A, Han XG (2007) Positive linear relationship between productivity and diversity: evidence from the Eurasian Steppe. J Appl Ecol 44:1023–1034CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bai YF, Wu JG, Xing Q, Pan QM, Huang JH, Yang DL, Han XG (2008) Primary production and rain use efficiency across a precipitation gradient on the Mongolia plateau. Ecology 89:2140–2153CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. Bai YF, Wu JG, Clark CM, Naeem S, Pan QM, Huang JH, Zhang LX, Han XG (2010) Tradeoffs and thresholds in the effects of nitrogen addition on biodiversity and ecosystem functioning: evidence from Inner Mongolia Grasslands. Glob Change Biol 16:358–372CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Chen ZZ (1988) Topography and climate of Xilin River Basin. In: Inner Mongolia Grassland Ecosystem Research Station of Chinese Academy of Sciences (ed) Research on Grassland Ecosystem No.3. Science, Beijing, pp 13–22Google Scholar
  10. Chen SH, Zhang H, Wang LQ, Zhanbula ZML (eds) (2001) Root systems of grassland plants in Northern China. Jilin University Press, ChangchunGoogle Scholar
  11. Chen SP, Bai YF, Han XG (2002) Variation of water-use efficiency of Leymus chinensis and Cleistogenes squarrosa in different plant communities in Xilin River Basin. Nei Mongol Acta Bot Sin 44:1484–1490Google Scholar
  12. Chen SP, Bai YF, Lin GH, Liang Y, Han XG (2005) Effects of grazing on photosynthetic characteristics of major steppe species in the Xilin River Basin, Inner Mongolia, China. Photosynthetica 43:559–565CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Chinese Academy of Sciences Integrative Expedition Team to Inner Mongolia and Ningxia (ed) (1985) The vegetation of Inner Mongolia. Science, BeijingGoogle Scholar
  14. Cingolani AM, Posse G, Collantes MB (2005) Plant functional traits, herbivore selectivity and response to sheep grazing in Patagonian steppe grasslands. J Appl Ecol 42:50–59CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Coupland RT (1993) Ecosystems of the World 8B. Natural Grasslands: Eastern Hemisphere and Résumé. Elsevier, AmsterdamGoogle Scholar
  16. Cui XY, Chen ZZ, Du ZC (2001) Study on light- and water-use characteristics of main plants in semiarid steppe. Acta Pratacult Sin 10:14–21Google Scholar
  17. Díaz S, Cabido M, Casanoves F (1998) Plant functional traits and environmental filters at a regional scale. J Veg Sci 9:113–122CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Díaz S, Noy-Meir I, Cabido M (2001) Can grazing response of herbaceous plants be predicted from simple vegetative traits? J Appl Ecol 38:497–508CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Díaz S, Lavorel S, McIntyre S, Falczuk V, Casanoves F, Milchunas DG, Skarpe C, Rusch G, Sternberg M, Noy-Meir I, Landsberg J, Zhang W, Clark H, Campbell BD (2007) Plant trait responses to grazing: a global synthesis. Glob Change Biol 13:313–341CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. De Bello F, Leps J, Sebastia MT (2005) Predictive value of plant traits to grazing along a climatic gradient in the Mediterranean. J Appl Ecol 42:824–833CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Easterling DR, Meehl GA, Parmesan C, Changnon SA, Karl TR, Mearns LO (2000) Climate extremes: observations, modeling, and impacts. Science 289:2068–2074CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  22. Evju M, Austrheim G, Halvorsen R, Mysterud A (2009) Grazing responses in herbs in relation to herbivore selectivity and plant traits in an alpine ecosystem. Oecologia 161:77–85CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  23. Field C, Mooney HA (1986) The photosynthesis-nitrogen relationship in wild plants. In: Givnish TJ (ed) On the economy of form and function. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp 25–55Google Scholar
  24. Golodets C, Sternberg M, Kigel J (2009) A community-level test of the leaf-height-seed ecology strategy scheme in relation to grazing conditions. J Veg Sci 20:392–402CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Graff P, Aguiar MR, Chaneton EJ (2007) Shifts in positive and negative plant interactions along a grazing intensity gradient. Ecology 88:188–199CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  26. Grime JP (2001) Plant strategies, vegetation processes, and ecosystem properties. John Wiley and Sons, ChichesterGoogle Scholar
  27. Hilbig W (1995) The vegetation of Mongolia. SPB, AmsterdamGoogle Scholar
  28. Klimesova J, Latzel V, de Bello F, van Groenendael JM (2008) Plant functional traits in studies of vegetation changes in response to grazing and mowing: towards a use of more specific traits. Preslia 80:245–253Google Scholar
  29. Landsberg J, Lavorel S, Stol J (1999) Grazing response groups among understorey plants in arid rangelands. J Veg Sci 10:683–696CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Lavorel S, Díaz S, Cornelissen JHC, Garnier E, Harrison SP, McIntyre S, Juli GP, Perez-Harguindeguy N, Roumet C, Urcelay C (2007) Plant functional types: Are we getting any closer to the Holy Grail? In: Canadell JG, Pataki DE, Pitelka LF (eds) Terrestrial ecosystems in a changing World. Springer, Berlin, pp 149–164CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Li YH (1989) Impact of grazing on Aneurolepidium chinense steppe and Stipa grandis steppe. Acta Oecol-Oecol Appl 10:31–46Google Scholar
  32. Milla R, Reich PB (2007) The scaling of leaf area and mass: the cost of light interception increases with leaf size. Proc R Soc B-Biol Sci 274:2109–2114CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Osem Y, Perevolotsky A, Kigel J (2004) Site productivity and plant size explain the response of annual species to grazing exclusion in a Mediterranean semi-arid rangeland. J Ecol 92:297–309CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Pakeman RJ (2004) Consistency of plant species and trait responses to grazing along a productivity gradient: a multi-site analysis. J Ecol 92:893–905CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Pérez-Harguindeguy N, Díaz S, Vendramini F, Cornelissen JHC, Gurvich DE, Cabido M (2003) Leaf traits and herbivore selection in the field and in cafeteria experiments. Austral Ecol 28:642–650CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Poorter L, Rozendaal DMA (2008) Leaf size and leaf display of thirty-eight tropical tree species. Oecologia 158:35–46CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  37. Reich PB, Walters MB, Ellsworth DS (1997) From tropics to tundra: global convergence in plant functioning. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 94:13730–13734CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  38. Reich PB, Wright IJ, Lusk CH (2007) Predicting leaf physiology from simple plant and climate attributes: a global GLOPNET analysis. Ecol Appl 17:1982–1988CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  39. Rusch GM, Skarpe C, Halley DJ (2009) Plant traits link hypothesis about resource-use and response to herbivory. Basic Appl Ecol 10:466–474CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Sage RF, Wedin DA, Li M (1999) The biogeography of C4 photosynthesis: Patterns and controlling factors. In: Sage RF, Monson RK (eds) C4 plant biology. Academic, San Diego, pp 313–373CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Schonbach P, Wan H, Schiborra A, Gierus M, Bai Y, Muller K, Glindemann T, Wang C, Susenbeth A, Taube F (2009) Short-term management and stocking rate effects of grazing sheep on herbage quality and productivity of Inner Mongolia steppe. Crop Pasture Sci 60:963–974CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Shipley B (2002) Trade-offs between net assimilation rate and specific leaf area in determining relative growth rate: relationship with daily irradiance. Funct Ecol 16:682–689CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Shipley B (2006) Net assimilation rate, specific leaf area and leaf mass ratio: which is most closely correlated with relative growth rate? A meta-analysis. Funct Ecol 20:565–574CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Tong C, Wu J, Yong S, Yang J, Yong W (2004) A landscape-scale assessment of steppe degradation in the Xilin River Basin, Inner Mongolia. China J Arid Environ 59:133–149CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Vesk PA, Leishman MR, Westoby M (2004) Simple traits do not predict grazing response in Australian dry shrublands and woodlands. J Appl Ecol 41:22–31CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Wan HW, Yang Y, Bai SQ, Xu YH, Bai YF (2008) Variations in leaf functional traits of six species along a nitrogen addition gradient in Leymus chinensis steppe in Inner Mongolia. J Plant Ecol 32:611–621Google Scholar
  47. Wang JW, Cai C (1988) Studies on genesis, types and characteristics of the soils of the Xilin River Basin. In: Inner Mongolia Grassland Ecosystem Research Station of Chinese Academy of Sciences (ed) Research on Grassland Ecosystem No.3. Science, Beijing, pp 23–83Google Scholar
  48. Wang W, Liang CZ, Liu ZL, Hao DY (2000) Analysis of the plant individual behaviour during the degradation and restoring succession in steppe community. Acta Phytoecologica Sinica 24:268–274Google Scholar
  49. Wang S-P, Wang Y-F, Chen Z-Z (2003) Effect of climate change and grazing on populations of Cleistogenes squarrosa in Inner Mongolia steppe. Acta Phytoecologica Sinica 27:337–343Google Scholar
  50. Westoby M (1999) The LHS strategy scheme in relation to grazing and fire. In: Eldridge D, Freudenberger D (eds) VIth International Rangeland Congress. International Rangeland Congress, Townsville, pp 893–896Google Scholar
  51. Westoby M, Falster DS, Moles AT, Vesk PA, Wright IJ (2002) Plant ecological strategies: some leading dimensions of variation between species. Annu Rev Ecol Syst 33:125–159CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Wittmer M, Auerswald K, Bai YF, Schaufele R, Schnyder H (2010) Changes in the abundance of C3/C4 species of Inner Mongolia grassland: evidence from isotopic composition of soil and vegetation. Glob Change Biol 16:605–616CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Wright IJ, Reich PB, Westoby M, Ackerly DD, Baruch Z, Bongers F, Cavender-Bares J, Chapin T, Cornelissen JHC, Diemer M, Flexas J, Garnier E, Groom PK, Gulias J, Hikosaka K, Lamont BB, Lee T, Lee W, Lusk C, Midgley JJ, Navas ML, Niinemets U, Oleksyn J, Osada N, Poorter H, Poot P, Prior L, Pyankov VI, Roumet C, Thomas SC, Tjoelker MG, Veneklaas EJ, Villar R (2004) The worldwide leaf economics spectrum. Nature 428:821–827CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  54. Xiong XG, Han XG, Bai YF, Pan QM (2003) Increased distribution of Caragana microphylla in rangelands and its causes and con sequences in Xilin River Basin. Acta Pratac Sin 12:57–62Google Scholar
  55. Zhong YK, Bao QH, Sun W, Zhang HY (2001) The influence of mowing on seed amount and composition in soil seed bank of typical steppe. Acta Scientiarum Naturalium Universitatis Neimongol 32:308–314Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Shuxia Zheng
    • 1
  • Zhichun Lan
    • 1
  • Wenhuai Li
    • 1
  • Ruixin Shao
    • 2
  • Yumei Shan
    • 3
  • Hongwei Wan
    • 4
  • Friedhelm Taube
    • 4
  • Yongfei Bai
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Vegetation and Environmental Change, Institute of BotanyChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  2. 2.State Key Laboratory of Soil Erosion and Dryland Farming on the Loess Plateau, Institute of Soil and Water ConservationChinese Academy of SciencesYanglingChina
  3. 3.College of Ecology and Environmental ScienceInner Mongolia Agricultural UniversityHohhotChina
  4. 4.Institute of Crop Science and Plant Breeding—Grass and Forage Science/Organic AgricultureChristian-Albrechts-UniversityKielGermany

Personalised recommendations