Commenced in January 2007
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Edition: International
Paper Count: 2

grassland Related Abstracts

2 Grassland Phenology in Different Eco-Geographic Regions over the Tibetan Plateau

Authors: Jiahua Zhang, Fengmei Yao, Qing Chang


Studying on the response of vegetation phenology to climate change at different temporal and spatial scales is important for understanding and predicting future terrestrial ecosystem dynamics andthe adaptation of ecosystems to global change. In this study, the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) dataset and climate data were used to analyze the dynamics of grassland phenology as well as their correlation with climatic factors in different eco-geographic regions and elevation units across the Tibetan Plateau. The results showed that during 2003–2012, the start of the grassland greening season (SOS) appeared later while the end of the growing season (EOS) appeared earlier following the plateau’s precipitation and heat gradients from southeast to northwest. The multi-year mean value of SOS showed differences between various eco-geographic regions and was significantly impacted by average elevation and regional average precipitation during spring. Regional mean differences for EOS were mainly regulated by mean temperature during autumn. Changes in trends of SOS in the central and eastern eco-geographic regions were coupled to the mean temperature during spring, advancing by about 7d/°C. However, in the two southwestern eco-geographic regions, SOS was delayed significantly due to the impact of spring precipitation. The results also showed that the SOS occurred later with increasing elevation, as expected, with a delay rate of 0.66 d/100m. For 2003–2012, SOS showed an advancing trend in low-elevation areas, but a delayed trend in high-elevation areas, while EOS was delayed in low-elevation areas, but advanced in high-elevation areas. Grassland SOS and EOS changes may be influenced by a variety of other environmental factors in each eco-geographic region.

Keywords: MODIS, elevation, grassland, phenology, eco-geographic regions, climatic factors, Tibetan Plateau

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1 Measurement of in-situ Horizontal Root Tensile Strength of Herbaceous Vegetation for Improved Evaluation of Slope Stability in the Alps

Authors: Michael T. Lobmann, Camilla Wellstein, Stefan Zerbe


Vegetation plays an important role for the stabilization of slopes against erosion processes, such as shallow erosion and landslides. Plant roots reinforce the soil, increase soil cohesion and often cross possible shear planes. Hence, plant roots reduce the risk of slope failure. Generally, shrub and tree roots penetrate deeper into the soil vertically, while roots of forbs and grasses are concentrated horizontally in the topsoil and organic layer. Therefore, shrubs and trees have a higher potential for stabilization of slopes with deep soil layers than forbs and grasses. Consequently, research mainly focused on the vertical root effects of shrubs and trees. Nevertheless, a better understanding of the stabilizing effects of grasses and forbs is needed for better evaluation of the stability of natural and artificial slopes with herbaceous vegetation. Despite the importance of vertical root effects, field observations indicate that horizontal root effects also play an important role for slope stabilization. Not only forbs and grasses, but also some shrubs and trees form tight horizontal networks of fine and coarse roots and rhizomes in the topsoil. These root networks increase soil cohesion and horizontal tensile strength. Available methods for physical measurements, such as shear-box tests, pullout tests and singular root tensile strength measurement can only provide a detailed picture of vertical effects of roots on slope stabilization. However, the assessment of horizontal root effects is largely limited to computer modeling. Here, a method for measurement of in-situ cumulative horizontal root tensile strength is presented. A traction machine was developed that allows fixation of rectangular grass sods (max. 30x60cm) on the short ends with a 30x30cm measurement zone in the middle. On two alpine grass slopes in South Tyrol (northern Italy), 30x60cm grass sods were cut out (max. depth 20cm). Grass sods were pulled apart measuring the horizontal tensile strength over 30cm width over the time. The horizontal tensile strength of the sods was measured and compared for different soil depths, hydrological conditions, and root physiological properties. The results improve our understanding of horizontal root effects on slope stabilization and can be used for improved evaluation of grass slope stability.

Keywords: mountain, Landslide, pasture, grassland, horizontal root effect, shallow erosion

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