Biodiv Sci ›› 2023, Vol. 31 ›› Issue (3): 22118.  DOI: 10.17520/biods.2022118

• Original Papers: Plant Diversity •     Next Articles

Response of plant community composition to precipitation changes in typical grasslands in the Loess Plateau

Xinyang Zhou, Yutao Wang, Jianping Li()   

  1. School of Agriculture, Ningxia University, Yinchuan 750021
  • Received:2022-03-18 Accepted:2022-08-21 Online:2023-03-20 Published:2022-09-21
  • Contact: Jianping Li


Aim: We explored the response dynamics of typical grassland plant community composition to precipitation changes to provide a theoretical and practical basis for grassland management to cope with global changes.

Methods: We carried out a 4-year simulated precipitation experiment in a 20-year enclosure grassland in the Loess Plateau. Three different precipitation gradients, 50% (PR), 100% (CK), and 150% (PI) of natural precipitation, were simulated using the canopy, with three biological replicates each. We measured vegetation height, frequency, abundance, density, and biomass in the sample plots. The impact of changes in precipitation on the species diversity and biomass of typical grassland plant communities was quantitatively analyzed.

Results: (1) We detected significant differences in the responses of vegetation functional groups to precipitation treatments. Compared with CK, the total biomass of legumes and weeds decreased in PR and PI, and legumes decreased by 42.72% and 11.81% in PR and PI, respectively; weeds decreased by 74.49% and 30.42% in PR and PI, respectively, while the total biomass of grasses increased by 26.71% and 97.06% in PR and PI, respectively. (2) Changes in rainfall had significant effects on species richness as well as the Shannon-Wiener index and Simpson index. The intuitive expression is that the structure of the plant community will change, thereby changing the composition of the plants in the plant community. (3) The increase in precipitation had a positive correlation with the biomass of the dominant plant Potentilla acaulis. Changes in precipitation had no significant effect on the total biomass of Stipa bungeana and Artemisia stechmanniana.

Conclusion: Precipitation changes can influence α diversity index of communities and the biomass of dominant species. Our results provide a theoretical basis for further exploring the impact of climate change on typical grassland ecosystems.

Key words: precipitation changes, species diversity, plant community composition, biomass, typical grassland