27 Feb 2023
 | 27 Feb 2023
Status: a revised version of this preprint is currently under review for the journal HESS.

Regulating effects of mixed cultivated grasslands in surface water conservation and soil erosion reduction along with restoration of alpine degraded hillsides

Yulei Ma, Yu Liu, Jesús Rodrigo-Comino, Manuel López-Vicente, and Gao-Lin Wu

Abstract. Vegetation restoration is one of the most effective measures to control runoff and sediment by human management. Nevertheless, few studies have been undertaken to objectively analyze the effectiveness of the effects of plant restoration on regional water availability, especially, in mixed-cultivated grasslands in alpine degraded hillsides. In this research, we carried out in situ monitoring using micro-plots to investigate the impact of three strategies, combining two grass species per plot (three species in total), in a 20-degree slope on the activation and volume of surface runoff and soil loss in alpine degraded hillsides for three years (2019, 2020 and 2022). A bare-soil plot was used as control. The findings indicated that mixed-cultivated grasslands can effectively conserve water and decrease soil loss along the increasing planting ages. Grass community of Deschampsia cespitosa and Poa pratensis Qinghai was the most effective in reducing soil erosion. From 2019 to 2022, the values of the runoff reduction ratio decreased for Deschampsia cespitosa and Elymus nutans (DE), Poa pratensis Qinghai and Elymus nutans (PE), and Poa pratensis Qinghai and Deschampsia cespitosa and (PD) from -79.3 % to -115.4 %, from -130.4 % to -156.1 %, and from -48.5 % to -87.6 %, respectively. On the contrary, the mean soil erosion reduction ratio of the cultivated grass communities increased from -184.8 % to 18.0 % (in DE), from -231.5 % to 24.3 % (in PE), and from -139.3 % to 31.9 % (in PD), respectively, from 2019 to 2022; and the corresponding mean values of sediment concentration reduction ratio also increased from -120.9 % to 55.8 % (in DE), -from 112.4 % to 59.7 % (in PE), and from -94.3 % to 62.1 % (in PD). This implied that protection measures should be considered a priority during the initial planting stage of cultivated grassland in alpine degraded hillsides. The key factors affecting soil loss and runoff were rainfall amount, duration and intensity (60-min intensity). We conclude that the results of this study can serve as scientific guides to design efficient policy decisions for planning the most effective vegetation restoration in the severely degraded hillside alpine grasslands.

Yulei Ma et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • CC1: 'Comment on hess-2023-42', Qianjin Liu, 07 Mar 2023
    • AC1: 'Reply on CC1', Gao-Lin Wu, 22 Sep 2023
  • RC1: 'Comment on hess-2023-42', Corinna Gall, 14 Mar 2023
    • AC2: 'Reply on RC1', Gao-Lin Wu, 22 Sep 2023
  • RC2: 'Comment on hess-2023-42', Veerle Vanacker, 28 Aug 2023
    • AC3: 'Reply on RC2', Gao-Lin Wu, 22 Sep 2023

Yulei Ma et al.

Yulei Ma et al.


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Short summary
In this research, the runoff and sediment reduction benefits of hillsides mixed grasslands were examined. The cultivated grasslands effectively increased runoff and decreased sediment along ages. And we found that the runoff was the dominant factor affecting soil erosion modulus in alpine hillsides.