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Grasslands and Grassland Sciences in Northern China
forage plants, water and nutrient cycling, productivity, and carrying capacity; (3) to conduct experiments on preventing grassland degradation, improving degraded grasslands, and creating artificial grasslands; and (4) to develop models for the ecological system and optimal productivity of each grassland area.
A principal investigator is responsible for research at each of the five project sites, which represent particular grassland types, as follows: (1) Changling: Professor Li Jiandong of the Institute of Grassland Science, Northeast Normal University, will study the alkaline steppe of the Songnen Basin in Jilin Province (Map 1-3). As a result of poor irrigation and overgrazing, this tall grass steppe on the border between Jilin and Inner Mongolia is severely degraded. IOB senior research professor Zheng Huiying and scholars from Northeast Normal University are seeking to alleviate the problem by a combination of bioengineering, mulch treatment, and livestock rotation. (2) Xilingele: Professor Chen Zuozhong, director of the Inner Mongolia Grassland Ecosystem Research Station, will oversee research on the degraded steppe of east-central Inner Mongolia. This area is overgrazed and degraded, but shows no sign of salinization or alkalinization. (3) Maowusu: Professor Zhang Xinshi will lead work in the sand grassland of the Ordos Plateau in southwest Inner Mongolia. Although the chief problem in the Ordos has been overgrazing followed by formation of dunes, this area has great potential for increasing pastoral productivity and improving ecological conditions through the development of agroforestry. Scholars from the Desert Research Institute in Lanzhou who work at this site emphasize shrub adaptations to provide forage and control sand. (4) Linze: Professor Ren Jizhou, director of the Gansu Grassland Ecosystem Research Institute, will supervise research on the desert grassland of western Gansu (Map 1-4). The Linze site lies in the Hexi Corridor, a desert area that has been highly salinized by previous irrigation and seepage of groundwater. (5) Hutubi: Professor Xu Peng, president of the August 1st Agricultural College, will study the desert-oasis grassland on the southern edge of the Junggar Basin in Xinjiang (Map 1-5). Hutubi lies in a desert grassland, between the desert and an oasis. The area is too saline for cultivation but could be restored for grazing.
During 1990, the first year of this project, field investigations were conducted at each site to produce land-type maps (including soil, vegetation, climate, and groundwater) at a scale of 1:5000. Some research has begun on the relationship between plants and soils and the process of degradation. Construction of housing and irrigation systems is in progress at two stations, Maowusu and Hutubi, and fenced-in enclosures have been built. An annual meeting of principal investigators is designed to assess current progress and to plan future activities.
A major constraint on the Chinese ability to carry out projects of this type is the lack of training and expertise in several key fields and disciplines. One goal of this project is to develop ecological and productivity optimization models for each location; the first models are now being developed for the Maowusu and Changling sites. The Institute of Botany has adequate com-