Question: What is the impact of grazing regime on plant species abundance, plant growth form, plant productivity and plant nutrient concentrations in a forest steppe?
Location: Hustai National Park in the forest steppe region of Mongolia.
Methods: On the Stipa steppe we applied three different grazing regimes by using; (1) one type of exclosure which excluded grazing by large mammalian herbivores, mainly takh (Przewalski horse), (2) another type of exclosure that excluded both large and small (Siberian marmots) mammalian herbivores, and (3) control plots which were freely grazed. We measured species frequencies, tiller densities, plant biomass and nitrogen concentrations of the vegetation.
Results: Exclusion from grazing by takh and marmots significantly increased plant standing crop, but marmot grazing and full grazing did not show significant differences. Protection from grazing decreased forage quality, shown by a lower N-concentration of the standing crop. However, this was solely the result of the lower live-dead ratio of the vegetation. The frequency of the rhizomatous Leymus chinensis decreased under reduced grazing, as did the frequency of the total of rhizomatous species. The frequency of Stipa krylovii increased under reduced grazing, as did its basal areas, tiller density and tussock height.
Conclusion: Reduced grazing leads to a lower abundance of rhizomatous species and an increase in tussock species.
Nomenclature: Grubov (2001).