Grasslands represent one of the largest stocks of organic carbon. Therefore, its degradation has a significant feedback on the biosphere-atmosphere exchange of carbon and nitrogen. In grasslands, most of the carbon is located belowground. Overgrazing reduces the belowground net primary production and thereby the C and N storage capacity and turnover. Hence grassland degradation, accelerated by wind and water erosion, leads to volatilization and dislocation of vast amounts of C and N previously stored in this ecosystems.
The Chinese Academy of Science (CAS) maintains the Inner Mongolia Grassland Experimental Station (IMGERS, E116°42’ N43°38’) in the steppe area of the Xilin River catchment, Inner Mongolia, PR China. The station was established in 1979, belongs to the Chinese Ecological Research Network (CERN) and is managed by the Institute of Botany (IB-CAS). IMGERS offers excellent facilities to support longterm studies on the impact of different grazing intensities land management strategies. It operates various longterm research sites with different grazing intensities. The station holds an indispensable data set on ecological (e.g. plant productivity and species diversity), meteorological and hydrological parameters. IMK-IFU conducts research at the IMGERS and its experimental field sites since 2004 in the framework of the DFG Research Unit MAGIM.