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Grasslands and Grassland Sciences in Northern China
legumes, grasses, and forbs, and is generally 60–100 cm in height. Yields of fresh grass range between 3.6 and 7.8 tons per hectare and may reach 10 tons per hectare. Meadow provides excellent mowing grass and pasture for large livestock. Alpine-subalpine meadow consists of Kobresia, Carex, Polygonum viviparum, P. songoricum, Phleum alpinum, Festuca rubra, and various alpine forbs. It is generally lower than tall-grass meadow, 10–20 cm in height, and has a fresh grass yield of 1.5–3.0 tons per hectare. Alpine and subalpine meadow provides the best summer pasture. Saline and bog meadows in steppe and desert zones are supported by groundwater or surface runoff. Grasses and forbs consist mainly of Achnatherum splendens, Phragmites communis, Aneurolepidium dasystachys, Aeluropus littoralis, Iris spp., Poacynum Hendersomu, Trachomitum Lancifolium, Alhagi Sparsifolia, and Glycyrrhiza spp. These meadows are 50–80 cm tall and produce fresh yields generally ammounting to 3.0–6.3 tons per hectare. In some cases, yields can reach 10.0–22.5 tons per hectare, but are only 0.75 tons per hectare in heavily saline soil. Saline and bog meadows are also used as summer pasture.
Steppe, which is found mainly in the mountains, accounts for 26.3% of the total grassland area in Xinjiang. Montane steppe consists of Festuca, Stipa, Bothriochloa ischaemum, Cleistogenes thoroldu, Artemisia frigida, Agropyron cristatum, as well as a few legumes and, more often, shrubs. Its fresh yield is generally 0.75–0.9 tons per hectare, and it is used for winter and spring-fall pastures. Meadow steppe contains various forbs, and its fresh yield can reach 1.5–5.25 tons per hectare. Alpine and subalpine (high-cold) steppe occupies the high mountains of southern Xinjiang. It consists of Festuca kryloviana, F. pseudoovina, Stipa subsessiliflora, S. purpurea, Leucopoa olgae, and various alpine forbs. Its fresh yield is 0.6–1.0 tons per hectare. It is used as summer pasture.
Desert grasslands account for 39.2% of the region's total. Desert grasslands are widespread in the basins, reach into the low-and midlevel mountains of southern Xinjiang, and climb to the alpine belt of the Kunlun Mountains. Desert vegetation consists of various superxeric semishrubs (suffruticose), joined by ephemeras in the Junggar Basin and dominated by shrubs in the Tarim. With the exception of Ceratoides and a few other species, desert plants are rough and their quality as forage is low. The fresh yield of desert grasslands is only 0.75–2.0 tons per hectare in northern Xinjiang and 0.3–0.6 tons per hectare in the south. Classified by the texture of their soil substrata, Xinjiang's deserts include loamy desert, gravel (gobi) desert, sandy desert, and saline desert.
Sparse forest and shrublands cover only 2.3% of Xinjiang's grasslands. They consist mainly of Populus euphratica forests and Tamarisk shrublands along desert river valleys and lower margins of alluvial fans, which are usually mixed with grasses of saline meadows. The geographic distribution of grasslands in Xinjiang can be divided into two series: a horizontal (latitude) distribution pattern that includes the Junggar cold-temperate subzone in the north and the