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Research article 20 Jul 2018

Research article | 20 Jul 2018

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This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Biogeosciences (BG).

Effect of plateau pikas disturbance and patchiness on ecosystem carbon emission of alpine meadow on the northeastern part of Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau

Yu Qin1, Shuhua Yi2,1, Yongjian Ding1,3, Wei Zhang1,3, Yan Qin1,3, Jianjun Chen4,5, and Zhiwei Wang1,6 Yu Qin et al.
  • 1State Key Laboratory of Cryospheric Sciences, Northwest Institute of Eco-Environment and Resources, Chinese Academy of Sciences, 320 Donggang West Road, Lanzhou 730000, China
  • 2School of Geographic Sciences, Nantong University, 999 Tongjing Road, Nantong, Jiangsu, 226007, China
  • 3University of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, No.19A Yuquan Road, Beijing 100049, China
  • 4College of Geomatics and Geoinformation, Guilin University of Technology, 12 Jiangan Road, Guilin, 541004, China
  • 5Guangxi Key Laboratory of Spatial Information and Geomatics, 12 Jiangan Road, Guilin, 541004, China
  • 6Guizhou Institute of Prataculture, Guizhou Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Guiyang, 550006, People's Republic of China

Abstract. Plateau pikas (Ochotona curzoniae) disturbance and patchiness intensify the spatial heterogeneous distribution of vegetation productivity and soil physicochemical properties, which may alter ecosystem carbon emission process. Nevertheless, previous researches have mostly focused on the homogeneous vegetation patches rather than heterogeneous underlying surface. Thus, this study aims to improve our understanding of the difference in ecosystem respiration (Re) over heterogeneous underlying surface at the plot scale in an alpine meadow grassland. Six different land surface: large bald patch, medium bald patch, small bald patch, intact grassland, above pika tunnel and pika pile were selected to analyze the response of Re to pikas disturbance and patchiness, and the key controlling factors. The results showed that (1) soil moisture (SM) under pika pile and bald patches was 2–11% less than intact grassland despite pikas disturbance increased water infiltration rate, while soil temperature (ST) under pika pile and bald patches was 1–3℃ higher than intact grassland; (2) soil organic carbon (SOC) and total nitrogen (TN) density under above pika tunnel were 2.45–3.31 and 2.10–3.72 times higher than other surface types; and (3) Re under intact grassland and above pika tunnel were 0.22–1.07 times higher than pika pile and bald patches, and Re was significantly correlated with SM, TN and vegetation biomass (P<0.05). Our results suggested that pikas disturbance and patchiness altered ecosystem carbon emission pattern, which was mainly attributed to the reduction of soil water and supply of substrates. Given that the wide distribution of pikas and large area of bald patches, the varied Re under heterogeneous underlying surfaces should not be neglected for estimation of ecosystem carbon emission at plot or region scale.

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