The characteristics of plant communities along east eurasian steppe transect.

Han, W.-J., Hou, X.-Y., Olokhnuud, C.-L., and Schellenberg, M.P. (2014). "The characteristics of plant communities along east eurasian steppe transect.", Journal of Integrative Agriculture, 13(6), pp. 1157-1164. doi : 10.1016/S2095-3119(13)60659-0  Access to full text

Abstract

The East Eurasian Steppe Transect (EEST) is the first international transect across regions of middle and high latitudes in the eastern Eurasian steppe. The EEST is an ideal platform for researching the response of Eurasian temperate steppe to global change, because of its integrated gradients of temperature and human activities on a large-scale. In this study, basic characteristics of plant communities along the EEST across a latitudinal gradient was analyzed. According to the survey of 58 sampling sites, there are 140 species belonging to 34 families and 94 genera. Of particular note was the finding of Astragalus dalaiensis which has disappeared in the grasslands of China. On the whole, Gramineae plants are dominant with Liliaceae plants in the communities significantly decreasing along the latitudinal gradient from south to north. The Shannon-Wiener index and biomass of communities all decreased along the latitudinal gradient with significant negative linear regressions. The SDR2 (summed dominance ratio based on two factors) of dominant plants in the upper layers of communities, such as Stipa and Leymus chinensis, decreased along the latitudinal gradient from south to north. Especially, the SDR2 of L. chinensis decreased significantly. The SDR2 of Cleistogenes squarrosa, Agropyron cristatum in the lower layers of communities and the indicator species for degradation were not affected. Potentilla acaulis was found mainly in the southern and northern areas. Stellera chamaejasme was found just in a few sites in the southern area of the EEST. In communities of Stipa grandis and Stipa krylovii, annual and biennial species are dominant. The ratio of annual and biennial species in the community is significantly related to the latitudinal gradient. Perennial herbaceous plants and shrubs were not affected. According to the principal component analysis (PCA), with the data from 58×140 dimensions, the first and second components had the lowest proportion, thus indicating that the species compositions and community structures are homogeneous along the EEST. There is a certain degree of spatial differentiation along the EEST due to degradation's differences resulting from the different land uses.

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