Skip to Main Content
U.S. Forest Service
Caring for the land and serving people

United States Department of Agriculture

Home > Search > Publication Information

  1. Share via EmailShare on FacebookShare on LinkedInShare on Twitter
    Dislike this pubLike this pub
    Author(s): Zhongnan Wang; Xia Yuan; Deli Wang; Yang Zhang; Zhiwei Zhong; Qinfeng Guo; Chao Feng
    Date: 2018
    Source: Scientific Reports
    Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)
    Station: Southern Research Station
    PDF: Download Publication  (1.0 MB)


    Large herbivores act as a major driver of plant litter decomposition in grasslands. The modifications of soil biotic and abiotic properties, as well as the changes in quality (C/N ratio) of plant litter, are two key pathways by which large herbivores can affect litter decomposition. Yet we know little about the relative role of these two mechanisms in mediating decomposition. Here, by combining a large-scale and a small-scale field manipulative experiment, we examined how livestock (cattle and sheep) grazing
    affects standing litter decomposition of a dominant grass, Leymus chinensis in grasslands in northeast China. We found that livestock grazing affected litter decay rate both by its influences on soil property (soil moisture, nutrient content, and microbial communities) and on plant litter quality (C/N ratio). Due to their distinct body size and diet preference, cattle and sheep affected soil property and litter quality, thus litter decay rate, differently by causing varying disturbance regimes and by feeding on different dominant species. Our study provides evidence that herbivore grazing can influence litter decomposition by modifying soil conditions and litter quality independently. Therefore, choosing the proper large herbivore(s) in grazing regimes may be important in maintaining nutrient cycling in grassland ecosystems.

    Publication Notes

    • You may send email to to request a hard copy of this publication.
    • (Please specify exactly which publication you are requesting and your mailing address.)
    • We recommend that you also print this page and attach it to the printout of the article, to retain the full citation information.
    • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.


    Wang, Zhongnan; Yuan, Xia; Wang, Deli; Zhang, Yang; Zhong, Zhiwei; Guo, Qinfeng; Feng, Chao. 2018. Large herbivores influence plant litter decomposition by altering soil properties and plant quality in a meadow steppe. Scientific Reports. 8(1): 142-153. 12 p.


    Google Scholar

    Related Search

    XML: View XML
Show More
Show Fewer
Jump to Top of Page