Grassland ecology in China: perspectives and challenges
Deli WANG, Ling WANG, Jushan LIU, Hui ZHU, Zhiwei ZHONG
Frontiers of Agricultural Science and Engineering
During the last few decades, there have been an increasing number of studies on grassland ecology in China, involving the classic ecology concepts or theories and the applicable ecological principles of grassland conservation or management. This paper reviews the main progress in the following aspects. (1) Research on grassland species adaptation and resistance, population dynamics and foraging behavior, and biodiversity and community stability. (2) Research on managed grassland ecosystems (grassland grazing ecology) including grazing effects on grassland ecosystem function and foraging behavior by large herbivores. (3) Global climate change and grassland processes and functioning. (4) Applied research on grassland restoration and ecosystem health assessments such as vegetation restoration, restoration of ecosystem functioning, and assessment methods. There have been significant advances in grassland ecology, including the functions of ecosystem biodiversity, the ecological stoichiometry mechanisms affecting grassland community stability, grazing regulation of plant diversity and nutrient cycling. Grassland ecologists have succeeded in making these advances through observational, experimental and theoretical studies. Nevertheless, there are still significant challenges for the grassland ecology research, including understanding of grassland spatial processes, grassland grazing and multi-functionality, integrated effects of global climate change across grassland areas, as well as the ecological methodology and experimental techniques in grassland ecology.