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Adaptability of the structure and biomass of Arundinaria spanostachya clonal populations grazing by wild giant pandas.

Research paper by Qinqin Q Wang, Longyan L Zhang, Xiaohong X Gan

Indexed on: 23 Sep '21Published on: 16 Dec '19Published in: Environmental Science and Pollution Research



Abstract

To understand the defense mechanism of Arundinaria spanostachya clonal populations in response to grazing by giant pandas, dynamic variations in A. spanostachya clonal population structure and biomass allocation in a wild giant panda habitat at the Liziping Nature Reserve were evaluated, as well as whether the clonal populations would be continuously used by the wild giant pandas. The population density of each age-class in the grazed and control plots after grazing (2014a and 2015a) was similar to that before grazing (2013a). The effects of grazing on the size-class and height-class structures were relatively lower. Before and after grazing, the perennial individuals showed the highest total biomass, followed by the biennial and annual individuals, and the maximum dry matter content in each module was found in the culm, followed by the branch and leaf. The dry matter content of A. spanostachya individuals increased as the age class increased, whereas the total water content decreased. The maximum water content allocation in the modules was observed in the culm, and no significant differences were found between the shoot and leaf. Thus, foraging by the wild giant pandas had no impact on the size-class and height-class structures and biomass allocation of A. spanostachya clonal populations, and the clonal populations have established an adaptive mechanism against grazing by giant pandas. After grazing, the A. spanostachya clonal populations showed greater self-adjustment ability to restore the status to that before grazing and, thus, continuously supply food for the giant pandas. Further management intervention of A. spanostachya clonal populations after the foraging of wild giant pandas is not needed, which has implications for understanding the impact of co-evolutionary mechanisms between giant panda and its staple bamboo species.