Chin J Plan Ecolo ›› 2016, Vol. 40 ›› Issue (10): 1003-1014.doi: 10.17521/cjpe.2016.0045

• Research Articles • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Effects of grazing intensity on windblown sediment mass flux and particle size distribution in the desert steppe of Nei Mongol, China

Yong-Qiang LI1,2,*, Zhi-Guo LI1,*, Zhi DONG3, Zhong-Wu WANG1, Zhi-Qiang QU1, Guo-Dong HAN1,**   

  1. 1College of Ecological and Environmental Sciences, Inner Mongolia Agricultural University, Hohhot 010018, China

    2National Engineering Laboratory for Efficient Utilization of Soil and Fertilizer Resources
    College of Resources and Environment, Shandong Agricultural University, Taian, Shandong 271018, China
    3Forestry College of Shandong Agriculture University, Taishan Forestry Ecological Station, Taian, Shandong 271018, China
  • Online:2016-11-02 Published:2016-10-10
  • Contact: Yong-Qiang LI,Zhi-Guo LI,Guo-Dong HAN


Aims Grazing activities degrade soil aggregates, reduce vegetation coverage and affect the amount of deposited material, and make the land more vulnerable to wind erosion. Although livestock increase was considered as the main issue leading to the degradation, only very few studies have quantitatively investigated the relationship between grazing and soil erosion. The relationship between different stocking rates and sediment flux, and sediment soil particle was studied to reveal the mechanism of different grazing intensities on soil erosion process, to provide basic parameters for grazing optimization in the Stipa breviflora desert steppe. Methods In the Stipa breviflora desert steppe research area, BSNE collecting sand boxes were set in the randomly distributed paddock experiment sites for 11 year with different grazing intensities (0.15、0.30、0.45、0 sheep·hm-2·month-1, corresponding to light grazing LG, moderate grazing MG, heavy grazing HG and control CK, respectively). The quantitative relationship between grazing intensity and sediment flux, and the characteristics of sediment soil particle were conducted in four sampling periods through 2 years (April 2013 to April 2015).Important findings (1) Grazing intensity had a significant effect on the sediment flux (p< 0.05), and the sediment flux increased with the increase of grazing intensity. The response of sediment flux to grazing intensity was variable with season. The daily average sediment flux (13.12 g·m-1·d-1) during the period of April to October was smaller than that from October to April (18.74 g·m-1·d-1). The sediment flux difference of different grazing intensities was greater from April to October, with the 5 times daily average sand flux in the heavy grazing paddock that in the control. The average sediment flux difference of different grazing intensities was small from October to April. (2) The relationship between the natural logarithm of sediment flux at different height and the vertical height had a better binomial fitting from April to October, and there was no obvious regular pattern about flux vertical distribution from October to April, and the vertical flux difference of grazing intensities was mainly expressed in 0-50 cm layer. (3) Sand sediment particle ≤250 μm accounted for more than 85% of the total sediment, the sand sediment particle of ≤50 μm) size was significantly enriched, and the enrichment ratio increased with the increase of vertical height. The enrichment ratio of 125-250 μm particle and 50-125 μm particle decreased with the increase of vertical height, and the enrichment ratio of 125-250 μm particle was smaller than that of 50-125 μm particle (p< 0.05). Therefore grazing intensity had different influence on the sand flux in Stipa breviflora desert steppe, the greater the grazing intensity, the heavier the wind erosion was, and the effect of grazing intensity on grassland was enhanced by wind erosion.

Key words: grazing intensity, wind erosion, windblown sediments, sediment flux, desert steppe

Fig. 1

Monthly variation of precipitation and relative humidity from April 2013 to April 2015 at the experimental site."

Fig. 2

Distribution of frequency (%) of wind speed from different directions in different sampling dates (April 2013 to April 2015)."

Fig. 3

Mean horizontal mass flux versus different levels of stocking rate in growing-season and non-growing-season in two sampling years (mean ± SE, n = 3). A, Growing-season. B, Non-growing season. CK, control; LG, lightly grazed; MG, moderately grazed; HG, heavily grazed. Different lowercase letters indicate significant differences among the differently stocking rate during the same period (p < 0.05)."

Fig. 4

Natural logarithm of sediment flux as a function of height during different sampling seasons. A, 2013-2014 growing-season. B, 2014-2015 growing-season. C, 2013-1014 non-growing-season. D, 2014-2015 non-growing-season. CK, control; LG, lightly grazed; MG, moderately grazed; HG, heavily grazed."

Fig. 5

Particle size distributions for sediment samples of the BSNE different heights on control (CK) and heavily grazed (HG) treatments during growing seasons (October sampling period). A, October 2013 CK. B, October 2014 CK. C, October 2013 HG. D, October 2014 HG. 10 cm, 30 cm, 50 cm, and 100 cm indicate heights of the traps."

Fig. 6

Enrichment factor (E) of particle size ≤ 250 μm in sediments versus different heights of different treatments (enrichment factor = content of particle size in the sediments / content of the relative particle size in the surface soil layer). CK, Control. LG, Lightly grazed. MG, Moderately grazed. HG, Heavily grazed. D250, particle size ≤ 250 μm."

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