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Nutrient resorption helps drive intra-specific coupling of foliar nitrogen and phosphorus under nutrient-enriched conditions

Lü, Xiao-Tao, Reed, Sasha C., Yu, Qiang, Han, Xing-Guo
Plant and soil 2016 v.398 no.1-2 pp. 111-120
Leymus chinensis, Stipa, arid lands, biomass, ecosystems, grasses, leaves, nitrogen, nitrogen content, nutrient resorption (physiology), phosphorus, resorption, soil, steppes, China
AIMS: Plant biomass growth, storage, and decomposition connect nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) cycles, yet we know relatively little about the dynamics of such coupling under nutrient enriched conditions, and our understanding of the interactive relationships between plant N and P in drylands remains particularly poor. METHODS: In a semiarid steppe of northern China, we examined the effects of single and combined N and P additions on soil and plant N and P pools for both mature and senesced leaves in two dominant grasses: Leymus chinensis and Stipa grandis. RESULTS: Nitrogen additions increased N concentrations in mature and senesced leaves for each plant species, and decreased N and P resorption during leaf senescence. The effects of N additions on foliar P concentrations were species-specific, while P additions had no effect on any nutrient characteristics examined. Due to treatment effects on N resorption, N and P concentrations were tightly correlated in senesced leaves but not in mature leaves. CONCLUSIONS: Taken together, the results suggest plants in this ecosystem are much more responsive to changing N cycles than P cycles and emphasize the significance of nutrient resorption as an important plant control over the stoichiometric coupling of N and P under nutrient enriched conditions.