Journal of Mountain Science

, Volume 11, Issue 3, pp 746–754 | Cite as

Unpalatable weed Stellera chamaejasme L. provides biotic refuge for neighboring species and conserves plant diversity in overgrazing alpine meadows on the Tibetan Plateau in China

  • Wei Cheng
  • Geng SunEmail author
  • Lin-fang Du
  • Yan Wu
  • Qun-ying ZhengEmail author
  • Hong-xuan Zhang
  • Lin Liu
  • Ning WuEmail author


Steller chamaejasme L. (S. chamaejasme for short) is one of the most noxious unpalatable weeds in China, which has been frequently reported its negative interaction (i.e. competition and allelopathy) with other herbaceous species in grasslands. This study compared species diversity, biomass and sexual reproduction of herbaceous plants in meadows with S. chamaejasme and in open meadows without S. chamaejasme in overgrazing meadows on the Tibetan Plateau in China to determine whether positive facilitation exist between S. chamaejasme and other herbaceous species under livestock’s overgrazing. The results showed that there are more herbaceous species in meadows with S. chamaejasme than those in open meadows (35s and 30s, respectively). Diversity index and above-ground biomass were also significantly higher in meadows with S. chamaejasme. There were 39% (11/28) of all species with sexual reproduction found in meadows with S. chamaejasme, which was 7 times more than those in open meadows. Our study showed that S. chamaejasme could provide biotic refuge for neighboring plants and preserve plant diversity from livestock’s overgrazing in alpine meadows on the Tibetan Plateau. It also suggested that inter-specific facilitation between S. chamaejasme and other herbaceous species may play a key role in overgrazing alpine meadows.


Stellera chamaejasme L. Facilitation Unpalatable weed Alpine meadow Tibetan Plateau 


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Copyright information

© Science Press, Institute of Mountain Hazards and Environment, CAS and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Mountain Ecological Restoration and Bioresource Utilization & Ecological Restoration Biodiversity Conservation Key Laboratory of Sichuan Province, Chengdu Institute of BiologyChinese Academy of SciencesChengduChina
  2. 2.College of Life SciencesSichuan UniversityChengduChina
  3. 3.College of Animal ScienceGuizhou UniversityGuiyangChina
  4. 4.Sichuan College of Grassland ScienceChengduChina
  5. 5.International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD)Khumaltar, KathmanduNepal

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