B. Mezhunts, D. Givens;                             Electronic Journal of Natural Sciences of the NAS of Armenia. Ecology, 1,                             2004,                                                         pp. 13-16;                                                     
Results of field and laboratory investigations into biomass dry matter (DM), energy yield potential (EYP), gross energy (GE), in vitro digestible organic matter content in DM (DOMD), digestible energy (DE), crude protein (CP) and organic matter (OM) contents of natural grasslands of dry steppe, meadow steppe and alpine zones of Armenia's Geghama ridge are presented. A total 338 samples of biomass were collected over the period 1986-2000 at various elevations of up to 3000 m. The yield of total biomass was 162.5, s.e. 9.82; 288.2, s.e. 6.83 and 420.3, s.e. 7.68 g DM m-2 and EYP was 3.10, s.e. 0.188; 5.18, s.e. 0.120 and 7.45, s.e. 0.138 MJ m-2 in the alpine, dry steppe and meadow steppe zones, respectively. The coefficients of utilisation of solar energy (%) by plant communities of the dry steppe, meadow steppe and alpine zones, respectively, were 0.20, 0.29 and 0.12. Very poor relationships were found between biomass yield and year of sampling, precipitation and temperature (r2 varied from 0 to 0.39 and p was > 0.05). GE, DOMD, CP and OM were significantly (p < 0.05) affected either by plant variety or year*zone factors (r2 varied from 0.27 to 0.80). DE and ME showed a wide range values (DE varied from 8.5 to 14.6 and ME from 6.8-11.8 MJ kg-1 DM) indicating a wide range in animal production potential. The study provides information of the yields of biomass and bioenergy of mountain meadows located in the south Caucasus and will be useful for the local government to quantify the annual outcome of forage resources derived from natural grasslands which provide a major proportion of the feedstuffs used in Armenia.
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