Chin J Plant Ecol ›› 2016, Vol. 40 ›› Issue (8): 735-747.DOI: 10.17521/cjpe.2015.0457

Special Issue: 全球变化与生态系统

• Research Articles •     Next Articles

Relationship between ecosystem multifuntionality and species diversity in grassland ecosystems under land-use types of clipping, enclosure and grazing

Jing-Peng LI, Zhi-Rong ZHENG, Nian-Xi ZHAO, Yu-Bao GAO*()   

  1. College of Life Sciences, Nankai University, Tianjin 300071, China
  • Online:2016-08-10 Published:2016-08-23
  • Contact: Yu-Bao GAO


Aims Over the past twenty years, most biodiversity and ecosystem functioning (BEF) research has focused on the effects of species diversity on single or just a few ecosystem functions. However, ecosystems are primarily valued for their ability to maintain multiple functions and services simultaneously (i.e. multifunctionality here- after). This paper first introduced the constantly perfected concept of “multifunctionality”, and then tried to make some modifications to the current mainstream quantitative method in order to evaluate the multifunctionality of grassland communities with the management of clipping, enclosure and grazing in Inner Mongolia, investigating the relationship between the multifunctionality and species diversity. Methods In free grazing grassland, four sites were set and each site was divided into two parts to conduct enclosure and clipping management respectively. After seven years, 15 quadrats (1 m × 1 m) were established for each type of management in each site (total 60 quadrats for each type) using the regular arrangement method; as a control, we also established 20 quadrats (two sites) in grazing grassland. For each quadrat, we carried out plants census and collected soil mixture sample, measuring 16 soil variables, and then calculated the biodiversity indices and multifunctionality index (M-index) by means of factor analysis. Important findings The results showed that M-indexes by the two evaluation methods were strongly correlated at both quadrat and site scale, suggesting that our modified method was reliable. Over-grazed communities had the lowest biodiversity indices and their most soil indicators were also low, showing obvious degradation features. Enclosure and clipping communities (seven years) had higher biodiversity and better soil indicators. The rank of M-indexes was clipping community (0.2178) > enclosure community (0.0704) > grazing community (-0.8031). The vegetation was distributed mainly along the gradients of water and fertility. Among the biodiversity indices, evenness (Pielou) index and richness (Margelf) index were most strongly correlated with multifunctionality, and their explanatory power (R2) for M-index were higher at site scale (R2 = 0.5921, p = 0.0093; R2 = 0.7499, p = 0.0007) than at quadrat scale (R2 = 0.1871, p < 0.0001; R2 = 0.1601, p < 0.0001), indicating study scale played an important role in the determinants of multifunctionality. At both quadrat and site scales, M-indexes is a linear positive function with species evenness and a hump-shaped function of species richness. Therefore, in contrast to enclosure, clipping was more conducive to maintain the ecosystem multifunctionality in this region, and the ecosystem with moderate specie richness, where these species are evenly distributed might have better multifunctionality.

Key words: biodiversity and ecosystem functioning (BEF), redundance analysis, multifunctionality, species diversity, ecosystem function, land-use types