Authors: Xiao Pan Pang, Qian Wang, Jing Zhang, Hai Peng Xu, Wen Na Zhang, Juan Wang, Zheng Gang Guo*
Journal: European Journal of Soil Science
Impact factor2019: 2.818（农林科学2区）
Abstract: Small burrowing herbivores create extensive disturbances to grassland soil, which may change carbon cycling. We focused on the plateau pika (Ochotona curzoniae) to simultaneously investigate the responses of the soil organic carbon (SOC) and soil inorganic carbon (SIC) stocks of alpine meadows to the disturbance caused by this small burrowing herbivore and its disturbance intensity at the plot scale across five sites on the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau. The percentage of bare soil area in a disturbed plot was used as a proxy for the disturbance intensity of plateau pikas. Our study found that the disturbance by plateau pikas reduced the SIC stock and increased the SOC stock, whereas it had no effect on the soil total carbon (STC) stock. Our study also found that the SOC and STC stocks were higher at intermediate disturbance intensities of plateau pikas, whereas the SIC stock showed a decreasing trend as the disturbance intensity of plateau pikas increased. Our findings suggest that intermediate disturbance intensities of a small burrowing herbivore (plateau pika) improve soil quality by increasing the SOC stock and benefit soil carbon sequestration by increasing the STC stock.