J Integr Plant Biol. ›› 2005, Vol. 47 ›› Issue (8): -.DOI: 10.1111/j.1744-7909.2005.00121.x

• Research Articles •    

Analysis of Grassland Vegetation of the Southwest Heilongjiang Steppe

Mikinori TSUIKI, Yu-Sheng WANG, Yiruhan, Michio TSUTSUMI,Masae SHIYOMI   

Abstract: In 1997, we conducted a vegetation survey in three semi-arid natural grasslands (steppes) with different livestock grazing intensities in Southwest Heilongjiang Province, China. The dominant grassland species was the grass Stipa baicalensis Roshev. Grasslands with light, intermediate, and heavy grazing intensities were located 10, 5, and 2 km from a village, respectively. Villagers use the steppe to raise cattle, horses, sheep, and goats. Each of the three grasslands was surveyed by placing 100 quadrats (50 cm×50 cm) along a 50 m line transect. Each quadrat was divided into four equal areas (25 cm×25 cm; S-quadrats) and all plant species occurring in each of these smaller areas were identified and recorded. These data were summarized into frequency distributions and the percentage of S-quadrats containing a given species and the variance of each species were estimated. The power law was applied to these estimates. The power law was used to evaluate the spatial heterogeneity and frequency of occurrence for each species in the grassland community. The lightly grazed grassland exhibited high spatial heterogeneity (caused by large plant size), the highest species diversity, and a high occurrence of S. baicalensis. In contrast, the heavily grazed grassland exhibited high spatial heterogeneity (caused by patchy populations of small plant size), low species diversity, and a low occurrence of S. baicalensis. We judged that the heavily grazed grassland was overgrazed and exclusion of livestock from the degraded areas is necessary for recovery.

Key words: degradation, grazing intensity, Heilongjiang (China), spatial heterogeneity, species diversity, steppe, Stipa baicalensis.

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