ZHANG Jinghui, HUANG Yongmei*, CHEN Huiying, GONG Jirui, QI Yu, YANG Fei, LI Engui
dominant species; biodiversity indices; mass ratio hypothesis; variance-mean scaling; compensatory dynamics
Plant community structure responds strongly to anthropogenic disturbances, which greatly influence community stability. The changes in community structure, aboveground biomass (AGB), biodiversity and community stability associated with different management practices were studied with a three-year field investigation in a temperate steppe of Inner Mongolia, China. The species richness, Shannon-Wiener index, evenness, plant functional type abundance, AGB, temporal community stability, summed covariance, scaling coefficient and dominant species stability were compared among areas subjected to long-term reservation (R), long-term grazing (G), mowing since enclosure in 2008 (M) and grazing enclosure since 2008 (E). Site R had higher perennial grass abundance and lower species richness than sites G, M and E, although the AGB was not significantly different among the four sites. The species structure varied from a single dominant species at site R to multiple dominant species at sites G, M and E. The long-term reservation grassland had lower biodiversity but higher stability, whereas the enclosed grassland with/without mowing had higher biodiversity but lower stability. Different stability mechanisms, such as the compensatory dynamics, mean-variance scaling and dominant species stability were examined. Results showed that community stability was most closely related to the relative stability of the dominant species, which supports the biomass ratio hypothesis proposed by Grime.