Advertisement

Plant Ecology

, Volume 220, Issue 3, pp 371–381 | Cite as

The effect of pika grazing on Stipa purpurea is amplified by warming but alleviated by increased precipitation in an alpine grassland

  • Haixia Wei
  • Jingxue Zhao
  • Tianxiang LuoEmail author
Article
  • 55 Downloads

Abstract

Climate warming may cause alpine grassland degradation by decreasing plant growth and increasing pika grazing, although the concurrent precipitation change may further confound the plant and pika responses to warming. We aim to investigate the interactive effect of changes in temperature, precipitation and pika herbivory on plant growth. A 2-year field manipulation experiment of 2 °C warming and 15–30% increased precipitation was conducted in an alpine grassland ecosystem. During the growing season, warming significantly reduced plant height growth of the two dominant species Stipa purpurea and Kobresia macrantha, whereas increased precipitation and its interactions with warming stimulated plant height growth. Regarding the widespread species S. purpurea, warming significantly increased the frequency, consumption, and intensity of pika herbivory, whereas increased precipitation significantly reduced pika herbivory intensity, resulting in a net positive effect of increased precipitation and its interactions with warming and pika herbivory on plant growth. However, the pika grazing on K. macrantha varied little with warming and precipitation change. There was generally a much larger effect of pika grazing on S. Purpurea than on K. macrantha, which corresponded to higher specific leaf area and nitrogen content in S. purpurea than in K. macrantha. The diet selection of pika may explain why the sensitivity of pika herbivory to warming and precipitation change differed between the two dominant plant species. Our data suggest that the effect of pika grazing on Stipa plants is amplified by climatic warming, and such a negative effect could be alleviated by increased precipitation.

Keywords

Alpine ecosystem Climate change Grassland degradation Plateau pika Warming Precipitaion change 

Notes

Acknowledgements

We thank Dr. Gengxin Zhang for his help with the warming experimental design. This study was funded by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (41830649, 41301047, 31170451).

References

  1. Arft AM, Wookey PA, Gurevitch J (1999) Responses of tundra plants to experimental warming: meta-analysis of the international tundra experiment. Ecol Monogr 69:491–511Google Scholar
  2. Bai W, Zhang Y, Xie G, Shen Z (2002) Analysis of formation causes of rangeland degradation in Maduo County in the source region of Yellow River. Chin J Appl Ecol 13:823–826Google Scholar
  3. Dong QM, Zhao XQ, Wu GL, Shi JJ, Ren GH (2013) A review of formation mechanism and restoration measures of ‘‘black-soil-type’’ degraded grassland in the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau. Environ Earth Sci 70:2359–2370CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Ernakovich JG, Hopping KA, Berdanier AB, Simpson RT, Kachergis EJ, Steltzer H, Wallenstein MD (2014) Predicted responses of arctic and alpine ecosystems to altered seasonality under climate change. Glob Change Biol 20:3256–3269CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Fan NC, Jing ZC, Zhang DC (1996) Studies on the food resource niches of plateau pika and daurian pika. Acta Theriol Sin 15:36–40Google Scholar
  6. Fan NC, Zhang DC (1996) Foraging behavior of Ochotona curzoniae and Ochotona daurica and their adaptation to habitat. Acta Theriol Sin 16:48–53Google Scholar
  7. Foley WJ, Cork SJ (1992) Use of fibrous diets by small herbivores: how far can the rules be 'bent'? Trends Ecol Evol 7:159–162CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Ganjurjav H, Gao QZ, Gornish ES, Schwartz MW, Liang Y, Cao XJ (2016a) Differential response of alpine steppe and alpine meadow to climate warming in the central Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau. Agr Forest Meteorol 223:233–240CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Ganjurjav H, Gao QZ, Schwartz MW, Zhu WQ, Liang Y, Li Y (2016b) Complex responses of spring vegetation growth to climate in a moisture-limited alpine meadow. Sci Rep 6:23356.  https://doi.org/10.1038/srep23356 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Gao QZ, Li Y, Xu HM, Wan YF, Jiangcun WZ (2014) Adaptation strategies of climate variability impacts on alpine grassland ecosystems in Tibetan Plateau. Mitig Adapt Strat Gl 19:199–209CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Ge QZ (2013) The effect of extreme precipitation on plateau pika (Ochotona Curzoniae). Master Degree Thesis, Lanzhou University, Lanzhou.Google Scholar
  12. Gower ST, Grier CC, Vogt KA (1989) Aboveground production and N and P use by Larix occidentalis and Pinus contorta in the Washington Cascades, USA. Tree Physiol 5:1–11CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Harris RB (2010) Rangeland degradation on the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau: a review of the evidence of its magnitude and causes. J Arid Environ 74:1–12CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. He YL, Zhou HK, Zhao XQ, Lai DZ, Zhao JZ (2008) Alpine grassland degradation and its restoration on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. Prataculture Anim Husb 11:1–9Google Scholar
  15. Huang B, Wei WR, Zhang LF, Zhang YK, Xu JW, Yang GR, Zhang WG (2013) Impact of environmental conditions on rodent population. Pratacultural Sci 30:949–953Google Scholar
  16. Kang SC, Yang Y, Zhu L, May Y (2011) Modern environmental processes and changes in the Nam Co Basin, Tibetan Plateau. Meteorological Press, Beijing, p 418Google Scholar
  17. Kjeldahl J (1883) A new method for the determination of nitrogen in organic matter. Zeitschrift fur Analytische Chemie Fresenius 22:366–382CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Klein JA, Harte J, Zhao XQ (2007) Experimental warming, not grazing, decreases rangeland quality on the Tibetan Plateau. Ecol Appl 17:541–557CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Lai DZ, Sun BC, He YL, Ma YS, Dong QM (2006) Study on damages of mouse to grassland and biological prevention in Guoluo region. Qinghai Prataculture 15:18–21Google Scholar
  20. Lai CH, Smith AT (2003) Keystone status of plateau pikas (Ochotona curzoniae): effect of control on biodiversity of native birds. Biodivers Conserev 12:1901–1912CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Lehnert LW, Wesche K, Trachte K, Reudenbach C, Bendix J (2016) Climate variability rather than overstocking causes recent large scale cover changes of Tibetan pastures. Sci Rep 6:24367CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Li X, Gao J, Brierley G, Qiao Y, Zhang J (2013) Rangeland degradation on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau: implications for rehabilitation. Land Degrad Dev 24:72–80CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Li R, Luo T, Mölg T, Zhao J, Li X, Cui X, Du M, Tang Y (2016) Leaf unfolding of Tibetan alpine meadows captures the arrival of monsoon rainfall. Sci Rep 6:20985.  https://doi.org/10.1038/srep20985 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Liu YS, Fan JW, Harris W, Shao QQ, Zhou YC, Wang N, Li YZ (2013) Effects of plateau pika ( Ochotona curzoniae ) on net ecosystem carbon exchange of grassland in the Three Rivers Headwaters region, Qinghai-Tibet, China. Plant Soil 366:491–504CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Miehe G, Miehe S, Böhner J, Kaiser K, Hensen I, Madsen D, Liu JQ, Opgenoorth L (2014) How old is the human footprint in the world’s largest alpine ecosystem? A review of multiproxy records from the Tibetan Plateau from the ecologists’ viewpoint. Quaternary Sci Rev 86:190–209CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Peng F, You QG, Xu MH, Guo J, Wang T, Xue X (2014) Effects of warming and clipping on ecosystem carbon fluxes across two hydrologically contrasting years in an alpine meadow of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. PLoS ONE 9:e109319CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Piao SL, Cui MD, Chen AP, Wang XH, Ciais P, Liu J, Tang YH (2011) Altitude and temperature dependence of change in the spring vegetation green-up date from 1982 to 2006 in the Qinghai-Xizang Plateau. Agr Forest Meteorol 151:1599–1608CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Plumptre AJ (1995) The chemical composition of montane plants and its influence on the diet of the large mammalian herbivores in the Parc National des Volcans, Rwanda. J Zool 235:323–337CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Qu JP, Li WJ, Yang M, Ji WH, Zhang YM (2013) Life history of the plateau pika (Ochotona curzoniae) in alpine meadows of the Tibetan Plateau. Mamm Biol 78:68–72CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Rustad LE, Campbell JL, Marion GM (2001) A meta-analysis of the response of soil respiration, net nitrogen mineralization, and aboveground plant growth to experimental ecosystem warming. Oecologia 126:543–562CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Shi YZ (1983) On the influences of rangeland vegetation on the density of plateau pika (Ochotona curzoniae). Acta Theriol Sin 3:181–187Google Scholar
  32. Smith AT, Foggin JM (1999) The plateau pika (Ochotona Curzoniae): a keystone species for biodiversity on the Tibetan Plateau. Anim Conserv 2:235–240CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Sun FD, Chen WY, Liu L, Liu W, Cai YM, Smith P (2015a) Effects of plateau pika activities on seasonal plant biomass and soil properties in the alpine meadow ecosystems of the Tibetan Plateau. Grassl Sci 61:195–203CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Sun FD, Chen WY, Liu L, Liu W, Lu CX, Smith P (2015b) The density of active burrows of plateau pika in relation to biomass allocation in the alpine meadow ecosystems of the Tibetan Plateau. Biochem Syst Ecol 58:257–264CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Sun J, Qin X, Yang J (2016) The response of vegetation dynamics of the different alpine grassland types to temperature and precipitation on the Tibetan Plateau. Environ Monit Assess 188:1–11CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Valpine PD, Harte J (2001) Plant responses to experimental warming in a montane meadow. Ecology 82:637–648CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Wang Z, Luo TX, Li RC, Tang YH, Du MY (2013) Causes for the unimodal pattern of biomass and productivity in alpine grasslands along a large altitudinal gradient in semi-arid regions. J Veg Sci 24:189–201CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Wei XH, Li S, Yang P, Cheng HS (2007) Soil erosion and vegetation succession in alpine Kobresia steppe meadow caused by plateau pika—a case study of Nagqu County Tibet. Chin Geogrl Sci 17:75–81CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Wilson MC, Smith AT (2015) The pika and the watershed: the impact of small mammal poisoning on the ecohydrology of the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau. Ambio 44:16–22CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Wu ZT, Dijkstra P, Koch GW, Peñuelas J, Hungate BA (2011) Responses of terrestrial ecosystems to temperature and precipitation change: a meta-analysis of experimental manipulation. Glob Change Biol 17:927–942CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Yang K, Wu H, Qin J, Lin CM, Tang WJ, Chen YY (2014) Recent climate changes over the Tibetan Plateau and their impacts on energy and water cycle: a review. Glob Planet Change 112:79–91CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Yang ZY, Jiang XL (2002) The harm of plateau pika on grassland vegetation and its control threshold value. Pratacultural Sci 19:63–65Google Scholar
  43. Zhang WG, Ding LS, Han TH (1999) Effect of precipitation on the variation of Ochotona Curzoniae population. Pratacultural Sci 16:20–25Google Scholar
  44. Zhang HJ, Xie JX, Li XL (2010) The distribution of the plateau pika and correlation with soil properties of Henan County in Qinghai. J Qinghai Univ (Natural Science Edition) 34:14–21Google Scholar
  45. Zhang XZ, Yang YP, Piao SL, Bao WK, Wang SP, Wang GX, Sun H, Luo TX, Zhang YJ, Shi PL, Liang EY, Shen MG, Wang JS, Gao QZ, Zhang YL, Ouyang H (2015) Ecological change on the Tibetan Plateau. Chin Sci Bull 60:3048–3056Google Scholar
  46. Zhou LZ, Li DQ, Wang XL, Ma Q (2002) Sanjiangyuan Reserves rodent pests, their damage to frigid meadows and the control strategies. J Anhui Univ 3:151–152Google Scholar
  47. Zhou HK, Zhou L, Zhao XQ, Liu W, Yan ZL, Shi Y (2003) The degraded process and integrated treatment of ‘black soil beach’ type degraded grassland in the source regions of Yangtze and Yellow Rivers. Chin J Ecol. 22:51–55Google Scholar
  48. Zhou HK, Zhao XQ, Tang YH, Gu S, Zhou L (2005) Alpine grassland degradation and its control in the source region of the Yangtze and Yellow Rivers, China. Jan Soc Grassl Sci 51:191–203CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Zong H, Wang CS, Huang CY, Zhang YZ, Zhang TH, Xu H, He XJ, Chen J (2004) Diversity protection of vertebrate species and fauna analysis of Nam Co valley in Tibet, China. J Chengdu Univ Technol 24:189–201Google Scholar
  50. Zong N, Shi PL, Jiang J, Song MY, Xiong DP, Ma WL, Fu G, Zhang XZ, Shen ZX (2013) Responses of ecosystem CO2 fluxes to short-term experimental warming and nitrogen enrichment in an Alpine meadow, northern Tibet Plateau. Sci World J 11:1653–1656Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Alpine Ecology, Institute of Tibetan Plateau ResearchChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  2. 2.College of Tourism and Resource EnvironmentZaozhuang UniversityZaozhuangChina
  3. 3.CAS Center for Excellence in Tibetan Plateau Earth SciencesBeijingChina

Personalised recommendations