Science China Life Sciences

, Volume 53, Issue 7, pp 757–765 | Cite as

Ecosystem carbon stocks and their changes in China’s grasslands

  • JingYun FangEmail author
  • YuanHe Yang
  • WenHong Ma
  • Anwar Mohammat
  • HaiHua Shen


The knowledge of carbon (C) stock and its dynamics is crucial for understanding the role of grassland ecosystems in China’s terrestrial C cycle. To date, a comprehensive assessment on C balance in China’s grasslands is still lacking. By reviewing published literature, this study aims to evaluate ecosystem C stocks (both vegetation biomass and soil organic C) and their changes in China’s grasslands. Our results are summarized as follows: (1) biomass C density (C stock per area) of China’s grasslands differed greatly among previous studies, ranging from 215.8 to 348.1 g C m−2 with an average of 300.2 g C m−2. Likewise, soil C density also varied greatly between 8.5 and 15.1 kg C m−2. In total, ecosystem C stock in China’s grasslands was estimated at 29.1 Pg C. (2) Both the magnitude and direction of ecosystem C changes in China’s grasslands differed greatly among previous studies. According to recent reports, neither biomass nor soil C stock in China’s grasslands showed a significant change during the past 20 years, indicating that grassland ecosystems are C neutral. (3) Spatial patterns and temporal dynamics of grassland biomass were closely correlated with precipitation, while changes in soil C stocks exhibited close associations with soil moisture and soil texture. Human activities, such as livestock grazing and fencing could also affect ecosystem C dynamics in China’s grasslands.


alpine grasslands biomass carbon sink climate change soil organic carbon soil texture temperate grasslands 


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Copyright information

© Science China Press and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • JingYun Fang
    • 1
    Email author
  • YuanHe Yang
    • 1
  • WenHong Ma
    • 1
  • Anwar Mohammat
    • 1
  • HaiHua Shen
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Ecology, Key Laboratory for Earth Surface Processes of the Ministry of Education, College of Urban and Environmental SciencePeking UniversityBeijingChina

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