Indexed on: 23 Nov '06Published on: 23 Nov '06Published in: Plant Ecology
Characteristics of giant panda herbivory sites and clonal regeneration of an arrow bamboo Fargesia qinlingensis following giant panda grazing were studied in the Qinling Mountains of China. Three types of plots were located in a pandas’ summer habitat in 2002: herbivory (naturally grazed by giant pandas), clipped (simulated panda herbivory), and control. Average area of herbivory sites was 2.92 m2 and average distance from herbivory sites to the closest tree (dbh > 10 cm) was 1.0 m. Pandas avoided thin bamboo culms with basal diameters <5 mm. Average height of stumps of culms grazed by panda was 0.67 m and average density of grazed culms was 9.0 culms m−2. Annual culm mortality rate was significantly greater in herbivory and clipped plots than in control plots while annual recruitment rate was not significantly different among the three plot types in 2003. Neither recruitment rate nor mortality rate were significantly different among the three plot types in 2004. Annual recruitment rate was significantly greater than annual mortality rate only in control plots in both 2003 and 2004, suggesting static ramet dynamics in disturbed plots (herbivory and clipped). Density of new shoots was not significantly different, but basal diameter of new shoots was significantly less in herbivory plots compared to control plots in 2002. Differences of annual mortality rate and growth of new shoots found between control plots and herbivory plots suggest that clonal regeneration of F. qinlingensis culms was negatively affected by giant panda grazing. Therefore, no evidence of a clonal integration compensatory response to panda herbivory was found in F. qinlingensis.