Journal of Geographical Sciences ›› 2016, Vol. 26 ›› Issue (1): 27-44.doi: 10.1007/s11442-016-1252-9

• Orginal Article • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Assessment of effectiveness of nature reserves on the Tibetan Plateau based on net primary production and the large sample comparison method

Yili ZHANG1,2(), Zhongjun HU1,3, Wei *QI1,3(), Xue WU1,3, Wanqi BAI1, Lanhui LI1,3, Mingjun DING1,4, Linshan LIU1, Zhaofeng WANG1, Du ZHENG1   

  1. 1. Key Laboratory of Land Surface Pattern and Simulation, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, CAS, Beijing 100101, China
    2. CAS Center for Excellence in Tibetan Plateau Earth Sciences, Beijing 100101, China
    3. University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
    4. Key Laboratory of Poyang Lake Wetland and Watershed Research, Ministry of Education, Jiangxi Normal University, Nanchang 330022, China
  • Received:2015-05-22 Accepted:2015-09-21 Online:2016-01-25 Published:2016-01-25
  • About author:

    Author: Zhang Yili (1962-), Professor, specialized in physical geography and biogeography. E-mail:

    *Corresponding author: Qi Wei (1987-), PhD, E-mail:

  • Supported by:
    Foundation: The Strategic Priority Research Program of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, No.XDB03030500;National Key Technology Research and Development Program, No.2013BAC04B02;Key Foundation Project of Basic Work of the Ministry of Science and Technology of China, No.2012FY111400;National Natural Science Foundation of China, No.41171080, No.41201095


Twenty-one typical coupled large samples were chosen from areas within and surrounding nature reserves on the Tibetan Plateau using the large sample comparison method (LSCM). To evaluate the effectiveness of the nature reserves in protecting the ecological environment, the alpine grassland net primary production (NPP) of these coupled samples were compared and the differences between them before and after their establishment as protected areas were analyzed. The results showed that: (1) With respect to the alpine grassland NPP, the ecological and environmental conditions of most nature reserves were more fragile than those of the surrounding areas and also lower than the average values for the Tibetan Plateau. (2) Of the 11 typical nature reserves selected, the positive trend in the NPP for Manzetang was the most significant, whereas there was no obvious trend in Taxkorgan. With the exception of Selincuo, the annual NPP growth rate in the nature reserves covered by alpine meadow and wetland was higher than that in nature reserves consisting of alpine steppe and alpine desert. (3) There were notable findings in 21 typical coupled samples: (a) After the establishment of the nature reserves, the annual rate of increase in the NPP in 76% of samples inside nature reserves and 82% of samples inside national nature reserves was higher than that of the corresponding samples outside nature reserves. (b) The effectiveness of ecological protection of the Mid-Kunlun, Changshagongma, Zoige and Selincuo (Selin Co) nature reserves was significant; the effectiveness of protection was relatively significant in most parts of the Sanjiangyuan and Qiangtang nature reserves, whereas in south-east Manzetang and north Taxkorgan the protection effectiveness was not obvious. (c) The ecological protection effectiveness was significant in nature reserves consisting of alpine meadow, but was weak in nature reserves covered by alpine steppe. This study also shows that the advantage of large sample comparison method in evaluating regional ecology change. Careful design of the samples used, to ensure comparability between the samples, is crucial to the success of this LSCM.

Key words: nature reserves, protection effectiveness, large sample comparison method, net primary production, Tibetan Plateau