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Seed rain and its relationship with above-ground vegetation of degraded Kobresia meadows

Shang, Zhan-Huan, Yang, Shi-Hai, Shi, Jian-Jun, Wang, Yan-Long, Long, Rui-Jun
Journal of plant research 2013 v.126 no.1 pp. 63-72
Aconitum, Carum carvi, Kobresia, Oxytropis, Pedicularis, alpine meadows, altitude, ground vegetation, habitat destruction, land restoration, pastures, plateaus, seed dispersal, seeds, soil, species diversity, vegetation cover, weed control, weeds, China
Seed rain is a crucial element in vegetation regeneration, but has been rarely studied in high altitude regions, particularly degraded Kobresia meadow. Weed infestation is a distinctive feature of pasture degradation in Kobresia meadows on the Tibetan plateau, the ecological mechanism of which is closely related with vegetation’s seed rain. In this paper we assess the effect of vegetation degradation on seed rain and consider its implication for restoration of degraded Kobresia meadows in the headwater area of Yellow river, through analysis of seed species composition, number of seeds landing per m² of soil surface, and their relationship with above ground vegetation. Vegetation degradation had an impact on the species composition and numbers of seeds in seed rain and their relationship with above-ground vegetation. Within the un-degraded meadow, which provided a closed vegetation cover, 35 % of the seed rain was of sedge and gramineae species. However, within the degraded meadows, as the extent of degradation increased, so the total number of seeds m⁻² increased, with those derived from sedge and gramineae species forming a declining proportion of the total. Degradation of Kobresia meadow on the Tibetan plateau is exacerbated by the seed input of weed species (such as Oxytropis ochrocephala, Carum carvi, Aconitum pendulum, Pedicularis kansuensis in this study). Therefore, a major priority for the restoration of such degraded meadows should be the elimination of these weeds from the above ground vegetation by human intervention.