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Stoichiometry in aboveground and fine roots of Seriphidium korovinii in desert grassland in response to artificial nitrogen addition

Li, Lei, Gao, Xiaopeng, Gui, Dongwei, Liu, Bo, Zhang, Bo, Li, Xiangyi
Journal of plant research 2017 v.130 no.4 pp. 689-697
atmospheric deposition, ecosystems, field experimentation, fine roots, grasses, humans, nitrogen, nitrogen content, nitrogen fertilizers, phosphorus, steppes, stoichiometry
Nitrogen (N) input by atmospheric deposition and human activity enhances the availability of N in various ecosystems, which may further affect N and phosphorus (P) cycling and use by plants. However, the internal use of N, P, and N:P stoichiometry by plants in response to N supply, particularly for grass species in a desert steppe ecosystem, remains unclear. In this work, a field experiment was conducted at an infertile area in a desert steppe to investigate the effects of N fertilizer addition rates on the stoichiometry of N and P in a dominant grass species, Seriphidium korovinii. Results showed that for both aboveground and fine roots of S. korovinii, N inputs exponentially increased the N concentration and N:P ratios while P concentrations decreased. Meanwhile, the relationships between N and P concentrations for both aboveground and fine roots were significantly negative. Furthermore, while the N concentrations in the plants were relatively low, P concentrations were higher than the global means, resulting in a relatively low N:P ratio. These results suggest that the stoichiometric characteristics of N were different from that of P for this desert plant species. Results also show that the intraspecific variations in the main element traits (N, P, and N:P ratios) were consistent at the whole-plant level. Our results also suggest that N should be part of any short-term fertilization plan that is part of a management strategy designed to restore degraded desert grassland. These findings highlight that nutrient addition by atmospheric N deposition and human activity can have significant effects on the internal use of N and P by plants. Therefore, establishing a nutrient-conservation strategy for desert grasslands is important.