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Spatial patterns of vegetation and soil fertility along a grazing gradient in a desert steppe in Inner Mongolia, China Open Access


Other title
Steppe plants -- Effect of grazing on -- China -- Inner Mongolia
Steppe plants -- China -- Inner Mongolia -- Geographical distribution
Soil fertility -- China -- Inner Mongolia
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Lin, Yang
Supervisor and department
Dr. Scott Chang (Renewable Resources)
Examining committee member and department
Dr. Edward Bork (Agricultural, Food and Nutritional Science)
Dr. Fangliang He (Renewable Resources)
Dr. James Cahill (Biological Sciences)
Department of Renewable Resources

Date accepted
Graduation date
Master of Science
Degree level
Spatial heterogeneities of vegetation and soil can strongly affect ecological processes in arid and semi-arid ecosystems. However, little is known about how those spatial patterns respond to grazing intensity in such systems. I studied how grazing intensity affect the spatial patterns of vegetation and soil nutrients at scales ranging from 0.1 to 18.7 m in a desert steppe in Inner Mongolia, China. Vegetation patches were more fragmented and homogeneous under higher grazing pressure. Heavy grazing also destroyed the spatial aggregation of plant species richness. Spatial heterogeneity of soil water and organic matter contents decreased along the gradient of increasing grazing intensity, while that of soil mineral N was first increased and then decreased along the grazing gradient. Both percent plant cover and power-law modeling could be used to indicate the risk of desertification associated with increasing grazing pressure.
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