Livestock grazing activities substantially affect grassland ecosystem functions such as carbon (C) and nitrogen (N) cycles. Although numerous individual and synthesized studies had been conducted, how grazing, especially its intensity, affects belowground C and N cycling in grasslands remains poorly understood. In this chapter, our previous published studies were summarized to elucidate the 19 variables associated with belowground C and N cycling in response to livestock grazing across global grasslands. Overall, grazing significantly decreased belowground C and N pools in grassland ecosystems, with the largest decreases observed in microbial biomass C and N (21.62 and 24.40%, respectively). However, the response magnitude and directions of belowground C- and N-related variables largely depend on grazing intensities. Specifically, light grazing promoted soil C and N sequestration, whereas moderate and heavy grazing significantly accelerated C and N losses. This study highlights the importance of grazing intensity for belowground C and N cycling, which urges scientists to incorporate it into regional and global models for predicting human disturbance on global grasslands and assessing the climate-biosphere feedbacks accurately.
Part of the book: Grasses and Grassland Aspects