Long-term evidence of differential resistance and resilience of grassland ecosystems to extreme climate events

Md Lokman Hossain, Jianfeng Li*, Yangchen Lai, Carl Beierkuhnlein

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Grassland ecosystems are affected by the increasing frequency and intensity of extreme climate events (e.g., droughts). Understanding how grassland ecosystems maintain their functioning, resistance, and resilience under climatic perturbations is a topic of current concern. Resistance is the capacity of an ecosystem to withstand change against extreme climate, while resilience is the ability of an ecosystem to return to its original state after a perturbation. Using the growing season Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVIgs, an index of vegetation growth) and the Standardized Precipitation Evapotranspiration Index (a drought index), we evaluated the response, resistance, and resilience of vegetation to climatic conditions for alpine grassland, grass-dominated steppe, hay meadow, arid steppe, and semi-arid steppe in northern China for the period 1982–2012. The results show that NDVIgs varied significantly across these grasslands, with the highest (lowest) NDVIgs values in alpine grassland (semi-arid steppe). We found increasing trends of greenness in alpine grassland, grass-dominated steppe, and hay meadow, while there were no detectable changes of NDVIgs in arid and semi-arid steppes. NDVIgs decreased with increasing dryness from extreme wet to extreme dry. Alpine and steppe grasslands exhibited higher resistance to and lower resilience after extreme wet, while lower resistance to and higher resilience after extreme dry conditions. No significant differences in resistance and resilience of hay meadow under climatic conditions suggest the stability of this grassland under climatic perturbations. This study concludes that highly resistant grasslands under conditions of water surplus are low resilient, but low resistant ecosystems under conditions of water shortage are highly resilient.

Original languageEnglish
Article number734
JournalEnvironmental Monitoring and Assessment
Issue number6
Early online date26 May 2023
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2023

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Pollution
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law

User-Defined Keywords

  • Alpine grassland
  • Ecosystem functioning
  • Ecosystem stability
  • Grassland productivity
  • NDVI
  • SPEI
  • Vegetation response


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