loading page

Significant soil acidification caused by grazing exclusion across China's grasslands
  • +2
  • Jiangtao Hong,
  • Xin Xu,
  • Bo Pang,
  • Xingxing Ma,
  • Xiaodan Wang
Jiangtao Hong
Institute of Mountain Hazards and Environment Chinese Academy of Sciences
Author Profile
Xin Xu
Institute of Mountain Hazards and Environment Chinese Academy of Sciences
Author Profile
Bo Pang
Institute of Mountain Hazards and Environment Chinese Academy of Sciences
Author Profile
Xingxing Ma
Shanxi Normal University
Author Profile
Xiaodan Wang
Institute of Mountain Hazards and Environment, Chinese Academy of Sciences
Author Profile

Abstract

Soil pH is strongly associated with soil biogeochemical cycles and biodiversity in terrestrial ecosystems. GE has been widely adopted as an effective practice to restore degraded grasslands. However, the effect of GE on soil pH is still poorly understood and remains inconclusive. We synthesized data from 63 sites in the literature and 43 additional field sites and investigated the dynamics of soil pH following GE across China’s grasslands. Mean pH decreased 0.13 units with GE (mean pH was 8.15 and 8.02 for grazed and GE groups, respectively, p < 0.001). The pH of surface soil (0–20 cm) showed greatest decrease rates in GE grasslands, whereas that of deep soil (20–100 cm) had limited responses to GE. In general, the largest decrease in the rates of soil pH occurred after medium-term periods (5–15 years) of GE, whereas a smaller rate of change was found over short- (≤5 years) and long-term periods (≥15 years) of GE. Of the factors examined, the rate of soil pH change was negatively correlated to MAP, but had no significant relationship with MAT. The rate of soil pH change decreased linearly with RCC, RNC, RAC and RBC. Sedge-dominated grassland had higher pH decrease rates at 0–10 cm soil depth than grass-dominated grassland, whereas grassland dominated by forbs and shrub species showed the highest decrease in pH at 20–30 cm. Our results indicate that GE causes significant soil acidification, especially in surface soil and humid areas, which provides an important reference for future management of China’s grasslands.

Peer review status:ACCEPTED

25 Mar 2020Submitted to Land Degradation & Development
26 Mar 2020Submission Checks Completed
26 Mar 2020Assigned to Editor
18 Apr 2020Reviewer(s) Assigned
01 May 2020Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
15 May 2020Editorial Decision: Revise Major
12 Jun 20201st Revision Received
12 Jun 2020Submission Checks Completed
12 Jun 2020Assigned to Editor
27 Jun 2020Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
01 Jul 2020Editorial Decision: Revise Minor
02 Jul 20202nd Revision Received
02 Jul 2020Submission Checks Completed
02 Jul 2020Assigned to Editor
03 Jul 2020Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
11 Jul 2020Editorial Decision: Accept