Forbs Rather Than Grasses as Key Factors Affecting Succession of Abandoned Fields - A Case Study from a Subalpine Region of the Eastern Tibet Plateau
Earth Sciences
Volume 6, Issue 5, October 2017, Pages: 80-87
Received: Jul. 28, 2017; Accepted: Aug. 10, 2017; Published: Sep. 8, 2017
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Authors
Wenjin Li, State Key Laboratory of Grassland Agroecosystems, School of Life Sciences, Lanzhou University, Lanzhou, China
Jinhua Li, State Key Laboratory of Grassland Agroecosystems, School of Life Sciences, Lanzhou University, Lanzhou, China
Rulan Zhang, State Key Laboratory of Grassland Agroecosystems, School of Life Sciences, Lanzhou University, Lanzhou, China
Shuangshuang Liu, State Key Laboratory of Grassland Agroecosystems, School of Life Sciences, Lanzhou University, Lanzhou, China
Huakun Zhou, Key Laboratory of Restoration Ecology of Cold Area in Qinghai Province, Northwest Institute of Plateau Biology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Xining, China
Buqing Yao, Key Laboratory of Restoration Ecology of Cold Area in Qinghai Province, Northwest Institute of Plateau Biology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Xining, China
Meiling Guo, Key Laboratory of Restoration Ecology of Cold Area in Qinghai Province, Northwest Institute of Plateau Biology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Xining, China
Fangping Wang, Key Laboratory of Restoration Ecology of Cold Area in Qinghai Province, Northwest Institute of Plateau Biology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Xining, China
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Abstract
An old-field chronosequence in the subalpine region of the Tibetan Plateau were used as a model system to test a hypothesis that forbs drive pathways of successional trajectories in earlier stages of succession and grasses drive the development of vegetation in later successional stages. All old fields were dominated by forbs, which accounted for 65-85% of species richness and abundance. Species richness and total plant abundance significantly increased with time since abandonment. This is in disagreement with ‘humped-back model’. Although no consistent changes in seed size in the different functional groups found over time, however, there was a significant decline for the forbs, legumes, and annuals, except for the 1-year old field. In this species-rich subalpine ecosystem, forbs rather than grasses and sedges were identified as key factors affecting community structure and plant assemblages, whenever in the earlier successional stages or in the later successional stages. These indicated that grassland managers and policy makers should recognize potential role of forbs in biodiversity conservation and ecosystem functioning.
Keywords
Forb Dominance, Chronosequence, Old-Field Succession, Shifts in Plant Community Composition, Plant Functional Groups, Subalpine Meadow, Tibet Plateau
To cite this article
Wenjin Li, Jinhua Li, Rulan Zhang, Shuangshuang Liu, Huakun Zhou, Buqing Yao, Meiling Guo, Fangping Wang, Forbs Rather Than Grasses as Key Factors Affecting Succession of Abandoned Fields - A Case Study from a Subalpine Region of the Eastern Tibet Plateau, Earth Sciences. Vol. 6, No. 5, 2017, pp. 80-87. doi: 10.11648/j.earth.20170605.14
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Copyright © 2017 Authors retain the copyright of this article.
This article is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/) which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
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