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Biogeosciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-2018-531
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-2018-531
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 14 Jan 2019

Research article | 14 Jan 2019

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It has been under review for the journal Biogeosciences (BG). The manuscript was not accepted for further review after discussion.

Response of soil respiration and soil microbial biomass carbon and nitrogen to grazing management in the Loess Plateau, China

Zhen Wang1,2, Xiuli Wan1, Mei Tian1, Xiaoyan Wang1, Junbo Chen1, Xianjiang Chen1, Shenghua Chang1, and Fujiang Hou1,2 Zhen Wang et al.
  • 1State Key Laboratory of Grassland Agro - Ecosystems; College of Pastoral Agriculture Science and Technology, Lanzhou University, Lanzhou 730020, Gansu, China
  • 2Key Laboratory of Grassland Agro - Ecosystem, Ministry of Agriculture; Key Laboratory of Grassland Livestock Industry Innovation, Ministry of Agriculture; College of Pastoral Agriculture Science and Technology, Lanzhou University, Lanzhou 730020, Gansu, China

Abstract. Grassland covers more than a third of the earth's terrestrial surface. Grazing management can affect grassland carbon dynamics and soil microbial biomass, yet limited information is available on the effects of grassland management on carbon dioxide efflux and soil microbial biomass carbon (SMBC) and nitrogen (SMBN). During 2010 and 2011, soil respiration (Rs), SMBC, and SMBN, as well as different abiotic and biotic factors were measured after long term rotational grazing (nine years) on the grasslands of the semi-arid Loess Plateau, China. Grazing management included different grazing intensities and seasonal grazing patterns (in summer or winter). Stocking rates of 0, 2.7, 5.6, and 8.7 sheep ha−1 were used as grazing intensities, and warm-season grazing and cold-season grazing by sheep during summer and winter from 2010 to 2011 were used as grazing patterns. We hypothesized that the different seasonal grazing patterns and grazing intensities would affect Rs in a semi-arid grassland ecosystem. Our results indicated that grazing management significantly affected the rate of Rs, which supports our hypothesis. Grazing intensities tended to increase SMBC, but had no effect on SMBN. We also found that SMBC in cold season grazing plots was higher than that in the warm season grazing plots. However, variation in grazing patterns had little effect on SMBN. Furthermore, a structural equation model indicated that the aboveground biomass and soil microbial biomass were two important biotic factors that controlled Rs. Soil temperature (ST) and soil moisture (SM), which were affected by grazing intensity and patterns, were significant abiotic factors affecting Rs and soil microbial biomass. Our observations suggest that grazing management may change soil carbon sequestration rates in grassland ecosystems, because of changes in the aboveground plant and soil microbial biomass.

Zhen Wang et al.
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AC: Author comment | RC: Referee comment | SC: Short comment | EC: Editor comment
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Zhen Wang et al.
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Short summary
A two-year soil respiration were measured in a long-term rotational grazing experiment plots with precise grazing intensity in warm and cold season grazing grassland on the Loess Plateau, China. We found grazing season and grazing patterns significantly affected the rate of soil respiration. Grazing intensities tended to increase soil microbial biomass carbon and soil microbial biomass nitrogen, while grazing season had little effect on soil microbial biomass nitrogen.
A two-year soil respiration were measured in a long-term rotational grazing experiment plots...
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