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Light-intensity grazing improves alpine meadow productivity and adaption to climate change on the Tibetan Plateau.

Abstract

To explore grazing effects on carbon fluxes in alpine meadow ecosystems, we used a paired eddy-covariance (EC) system to measure carbon fluxes in adjacent fenced (FM) and grazed (GM) meadows on the Tibetan plateau. Gross primary productivity (GPP) and ecosystem respiration (Re) were greater at GM than FM for the first two years of fencing. In the third year, the productivity at FM increased to a level similar to the GM site. The higher productivity at GM was mainly caused by its higher photosynthetic capacity. Grazing exclusion did not increase carbon sequestration capacity for this alpine grassland system. The higher optimal photosynthetic temperature and the weakened ecosystem response to climatic factors at GM may help to facilitate the adaption of alpine meadow ecosystems to changing climate.

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