Are small rodents key promoters of ecosystem restoration in harsh environments? A case study of abandoned croplands on Mongolian grasslands

Y. Yoshihara, T. Okuro, J. Undarmaa, T. Sasaki, K. Takeuchi

研究成果: Article査読

7 被引用数 (Scopus)

抄録

We focused on the potential contribution of fossorial rodents to recovery of degraded abandoned Mongolian croplands. From field observations and the literature, we determined that plant litter and soil crusting were the main factors preventing establishment or growth of the perennial grass Elymus chinensis (Poaceae) on these croplands. We hypothesized that small fossorial rodents such as Mongolian gerbils promote grass establishment and growth by clearing litter and destroying crusts. We designed a path model linking number of burrows to patch size and plant volume of E. chinensis. As we hypothesized, small rodents increased the patch size of E. chinensis through reduction of litter cover. However, unexpectedly, we could not find significant effects on E. chinensis via crust thickness. Our results suggest that litter removal by the rodents gave E. chinensis suitable space that was free of competitors; this allowed expansion of the E. chinensis patches. Any effect of soil crusting on plant volume could not be explained simply by the variables we used, probably because some other mechanism, such as temporal variation in the crust, was involved. We demonstrate that small rodents are key agents in the recovery of degraded grasslands.

本文言語English
ページ(範囲)364-368
ページ数5
ジャーナルJournal of Arid Environments
73
3
DOI
出版ステータスPublished - 2009 3月
外部発表はい

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • 生態、進化、行動および分類学
  • 生態学
  • 地表過程

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