Grazing exclusion alters ecosystem carbon pools in Alxa desert steppe

D. Niu, S. J. Hall, H. Fu, J. Kang, Y. Qin, J. J. Elserb

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


The Alxa desert steppe has been strongly degraded by overgrazing, contributing c. 22% of the total springtime dust originating from Asia. Previous work in this region has focused on the impacts of grazer exclusion on restoration of vegetation and soil fertility, yet carbon dynamics are not well known. The effects of 7 years of grazer exclusion on carbon dynamics were studied and related to changes in vegetation and soil properties. Removal of grazing resulted in a significantly greater plant cover and aboveground plant biomass compared with areas that had been subject to grazing, but this had no effects on belowground plant biomass. Removal of grazing resulted in significantly decreased soil bulk density in the 0-10 cm layer, increased soil water content (7% cf. 40%) and greater soil microbial biomass C (6% cf. 73%) compared with soils in the grazed area. Soil organic carbon (SOC) pools were lower and soil inorganic carbon (SIC) pools were higher in areas that were excluded from grazing. After 7 years of grazer exclusion, the total C pool in the plant-soil system was 10% greater (primarily due to 21% greater in SIC) than that in the area that had been grazed over that time period.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)127-142
Number of pages16
JournalNew Zealand Journal of Agricultural Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2011


  • Grazing exclusion
  • Soil inorganic carbon
  • Soil microbial biomass
  • Soil organic carbon
  • Soil properties
  • Vegetation


Dive into the research topics of 'Grazing exclusion alters ecosystem carbon pools in Alxa desert steppe'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this