Chinese Bulletin of Botany ›› 2015, Vol. 50 ›› Issue (2): 159-170.DOI: 10.3724/SP.J.1259.2015.00159

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Plant Functional Traits and Their Trade-offs in Response to Grazing: A Review

Xiliang Li, Zhiying Liu, Xiangyang Hou*, Xinhong Wu, Zhen Wang, Jing Hu, Zinian Wu   

  1. Grassland Research Institute, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Hohhot 010010, China
  • Received:2014-03-20 Accepted:2014-07-15 Online:2015-03-01 Published:2015-04-10
  • Contact: Hou Xiangyang
  • About author:

    ? These authors contributed equally to this paper

Abstract: Grazing represents the main way for utilization and management of grassland ecosystems. Grassland degradation and productivity caused by overgrazing has become an issue in theory and practice in China. The introduction of new theories and methods, such as plant functional traits and their trade-offs, provides new tools to understand the mechanism of grassland degradation, an emerging area of grassland ecology. However, summary data are lacking. This paper reviews the recent research progress in plant functional traits and their trade-offs in response to grazing in China and worldwide. We performed a comprehensive analysis of the main characteristics of plant trait changes, causes and mechanisms. Furthermore, based on the argument about the reason of plant dwarf of grazing-induced between two theories of "adaptive grazing avoidance hypothesis" and "pant growth limitation hypothesis" in current academic community, we suggest important scientific questions that need further research.