compensatory interactions; stoichiometric homoeostasis; cultivated pastures; forage species disposition; grassland management
The grassland ecosystems in China have experienced widespread deterioration in functioning and services during the last few decades, caused primarily by overusing the production functions of grasslands at the cost of their ecological functions. Therefore, it is urgently needed to develop a new paradigm for ecological restoration and sustainable grassland husbandry based on basic research and demonstrations in grassland science. Since the establishment in 1979, the research at Inner Mongolia Grassland Ecosystem Research Station (IMGERS) of Chinese Academy of Sciences focuses on long-term monitoring of key biotic and abiotic factors driving ecosystem processes in temperate grasslands; researches on structure and functions of grasslands, biodiversity-ecosystem stability relationship, and responses and feedbacks of grassland ecosystems to global climate changes; development of practical techniques for restoration of degraded grasslands, establishment of cultivated pastures, and sustainable management of natural grasslands. The main findings include:(1) compensatory interactions among major components at both species and functional group levels are important mechanisms contributing to ecosystem stability; (2) stoichiometric homoeostasis at both species and community levels is an important process maintaining ecosystem stability, indicating that communities dominated by homoeostatic species tend to have high productivity and high stability; (3) mixed management systems (grazing and haymaking rotate annually) can mitigate grazing-induced biodiversity loss, promote the primary productivity and stability, and thereby provide an important contribution to sustainable land-use of grasslands. Based on the findings from basic research and demonstrations, IMGERS developed a series of effective techniques for forage species disposition and establishment of perennial mixed sowing pastures, which increased productivity and stability, extended productive life, and improved forage quality of the cultivated pastures. IMGERS also proposed a new paradigm for optimizing production functions and ecological functions in grassland ecosystems. The new paradigm include two main principles:(1) optimizing the production functions through establishment of productive cultivated pastures and prime pastures; (2) improving ecological functions through restoration of degraded grasslands and sustainable utilization of natural grasslands. These research activities support IMGERS as a frontier in grassland research, a base for translating scientific knowledge of basic research into practice of grassland management, and a platform for international collaborations.
Bulletin of Chinese Academy of Sciences
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"Long-term Ecological Research and Demonstrations Support Protection and Sustainable Management of Grassland Ecosystems,"
Bulletin of Chinese Academy of Sciences (Chinese Version): Vol. 32
, Article 14.
Available at: https://bulletinofcas.researchcommons.org/journal/vol32/iss8/14