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Grasslands and Grassland Sciences in Northern China
at the IGS grassland research station, located in Changling, on the Manchurian plain, 150 km northwest of Changchun. This site, 100 m above sea level, has a semiarid, continental, cold-temperate climate, with mean annual temperature of 4–5°C, precipitation of 434 mm, and evaporation of 1368 mm. The dominant vegetation is sheepgrass (Aneurolepidium chinense). Research at this site has resulted in the publication of about 100 articles, of which 40% were devoted to seed strains, 30% to study of the plant community, and many of the rest to descriptions of grassland types and rangeland management techniques. The institute's specimen room in Changchun contains more than 10,000 samples of local flora. In recent years, the Changling station has been equipped with $500,000 worth of equipment purchased with a grant from the World Bank.
Since 1984 the IGS has had a cooperative program with the University of Saskatchewan, administered by Professor Robert Copeland and supported by a grant of Can$1 million from the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA). Half of the money has been used to support the doctoral studies of 6 IGS students at Saskatchewan and another Can$300,000 to pay for 12 Canadian lecturers who offered training courses on grassland science, which have been held at the IGS and attended by more than 300 people from 14 provinces and regions of northern China. In view of the apparent failure of Chinese students from IGS (and elsewhere) to return to China and tighter restrictions on students seeking to go abroad, the remainder of this grant will be used to support research in China. Dr. Robert Redmond will continue his research at Changling in 1992, and one or two Canadian scholars will come to the institute in each of the next three years.
During the 1980s, research at IGS focused exclusively on natural grasslands; in the 1990s, attention will shift to creating and improving artificial grasslands through the application of irrigation, fertilizers, and improved seed strains. The major threat to grasslands in the Northeast is salinization or alkalinization of the soil. The Manchurian plain occupies a former lake bed, whose underlying soil has a high salt content. When exposed by overgrazing, evapotranspiration removes moisture from the soil leaving it saline. Professor Li Jiandong of IGS has received 400,000 Renminbi (RMB) under the ''Project of Optimum Ecological Modeling of Grassland in Northern China'' (see Chinese Academy of Sciences [CAS] Institute of Botany) to study and find methods for improving grassland of the "alkaline steppe" type. The IGS has also received funding from the Jilin Department of Agriculture to work on grassland improvement in that province and will begin a similar project in cooperation with the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences' (CAAS) Institute of Grassland Science in Hohhot on grasslands in neighboring Inner Mongolia.