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Grasslands and Grassland Sciences in Northern China
Floodplain meadow appears on riverbanks, terraces, and floodlands, that are fed by underground or floodwater. This meadow consists mainly of gramineals and sedges, often combined with shrubs, poplar, and willow trees. Most floodplain is located in forested river valleys, grasslands, or even desert; meadows in these areas can provide highly productive forage. However, much land of this type has been put under cultivation in recent years, with a corresponding reduction of rangeland.
Lowland meadow is found in arid regions and at the lower fringe of piedmont alluvial fans that contain underground water. These meadows exhibit different levels of salinization and swampland formation. The primary plant species in lowland meadow include Achnatherum splendens, Glycyrrhiza uralensis, Sophora alopecuroides, Phragmites communis, Alhagi sparsifolia, and Karelinia caspica. Lowland meadows provide good forage and good grazingland in the desert region.
Alpine and subalpine meadow are the primary components of the alpine vegetation zone, which is located in alpine and subalpine regions above the mountain forest zone. Most alpine vegetation is short gramineals, sedges, and forbs. Kobresia is the primary species in the alpine meadows of desert mountains and the Tibet-Qinghai Plateau. These meadows provide summer pastures in Qinghai and Xinjiang.
Desert Under extremely dry conditions, sparse desert vegetation communities are formed by superxeric suffrutex and shrubs. Where there is vegetation, the desert can be used for grazing. Without vegetation, it gives way to shifting sand or gravel gobi. Deserts are widely distributed in China: in basins, on terraces and plains to the west of the Helanshan Mountains, and in low mountain zones. Deserts reach to midlevel of the Kunlun Mountains. High-frigid deserts form in the Qaidam Basin on the Tibet-Qinghai Plateau and in lake basins above 5000 m in northern Tibet.
Microphanerophytes desert is composed chiefly of leafless microphanerophytes, Haloxylon ammodendron or H. persicum, but may also include micro suffrutex and sagebrush, along with ephemerals and annual grasses. These species are scattered throughout the Junggar Basin. Haloxylon ammodendron desert is also found in the Tarim Basin, the Qaidam Basin, and the Alashan Desert. Haloxylon desert can exist on loamy soil, clay, sand desert, or gravel desert. These grazinglands can be used in all seasons and support Kulakumu sheep along with other livestock.
Suffrutescent halophytic bush desert develops on saline or alkaline desert soil and may also appeared in gravel deserts. The plant community contains degenerated superdry suffrutescent species and annual xeric grasses. The productivity of this vegetation is low and the palatability poor. Bush desert of this type can be used as a fall-winter grazing land for camels and in some cases for sheep.