The Environmentalist

, Volume 30, Issue 1, pp 54–66 | Cite as

Annual nutrients budget for the grazed and ungrazed sites of an alpine expanse in North-West Himalaya, India



This work was undertaken to analyze nutrient contents of vegetation in an alpine meadow—Tungnath, North-West Himalaya, India. The study pertains to the uptake, transfer and release of four main macronutrients (organic carbon, total nitrogen, total potassium and total phosphorus) in grazed (exposed to extensive grazing by cattles) and ungrazed (grazing completely prohibited) communities. Mineral concentration was recorded higher for the ungrazed sites compared to the grazed sites, and maximum standing state of nutrients was found in roots. Belowground compartment (roots) contributed maximum share of mineral elements to soil. Litter nutrients release was low because of low microbial activity and continuous removal of phytomass. Observations reveal that there was very little amount of nutrient release from phytomass and vegetation in alpine are very poor source of mineral recycling. Low transfer rate of minerals from one compartment to other is adequate for greater amount of these minerals that are translocated back into the storage organs. A small proportion get removed through rain splash or through the removal of hay during grazing as relatively high release rates in ungrazed sites when compared to grazed sites was observed. This translocation can be considered as an important adaptation in alpine plants for survival during adverse environmental conditions, against all types of biotic pressures and also for regeneration in the forthcoming growing season.


Accumulation Alpine grazing land Nutrients Standing state 



Organic carbon


Total nitrogen


Total potassium


Total phosphorus



Authors are grateful to Professor A.R. Nautiyal, (Director, HAPPRC) for providing laboratory facilities, constructive criticisms and timely encouragement. Thanks are also due to Professor A.B. Bhatt (Department of Botany, HNB Garhwal University, Srinagar, Uttarakhand, India) for his constant support and guidance. We also wish to acknowledge the assistance rendered by Mr. S·S. Rawat and Mr. Karan Singh Rauthan. Financial support from Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF), Government of India, New Delhi is gratefully acknowledged.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Neelam Rawat
    • 1
  • B. P. Nautiyal
    • 2
  • M. C. Nautiyal
    • 1
  1. 1.High Altitude Plant Physiology Research Centre (HAPPRC)Hemwati Nandan Bahuguna (HNB) Garhwal UniversitySrinagar, GarhwalIndia
  2. 2.Department of Horticulture, Aromatic and Medicinal Plants (HAMP), School of Environmental Sciences and Natural Resource Management (ES & NRM)Mizoram UniversityAizawlIndia

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