Grasslands are important terrestrial ecosystems in China, which are mainly distributed in arid and semiarid regions. Based on the multiyear field experiments in the semiarid grassland, the effects of land use practices on grassland above- and belowground community characteristics were investigated. In addition, how the annual climate factors regulate grassland productivity was also studied to detect critical periods for grass growth. Results showed that grazing exclusion increased grassland root biomass, root length density and root surface area with declining plant species richness. After grazing exclusion, with perennial bunchgrasses being predominant in root community all the time, proportion of perennial rhizome grasses increased and proportion of perennial forbs declined. Clipping significantly decreased the annual mean soil respiration and its components. The root respiration was more sensitive to clipping than microbial respiration. Temperature increments during the early stage of the growing season (April–May) were positively correlated with aboveground productivity. However, hot and dry summer (June–July) strongly inhibited aboveground productivity. Impacts of drought and heat in August on productivity were negligible. Increased temperature and precipitation during the senescence period (September–October) and a warmer dormancy phase (November–March) were negatively correlated with productivity in the following year, while precipitation during the dormancy period had no detectable effects.
Part of the book: Plant Ecology