Response of early and late semiarid seral species to nitrogen and phosphorus gradients
- Cite this article as:
- Redente, E.F., Friedlander, J.E. & McLendon, T. Plant Soil (1992) 140: 127. doi:10.1007/BF00012814
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Above- and below-ground biomass production, nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) tissue concentrations, and root: shoot ratios were examined for five species that are characteristic of a semiarid successional sequence under controlled greenhouse conditions. In two simultaneous experiments, seedlings of one forb, two grass, and two shrub species important in a sagebrush successional sere, were subjected to seven levels of N and P. Results of the experiments suggest distinct differences in nutrient response patterns between early and late seral species. Early seral species produced more biomass but had lower tissue nutrient concentrations than late seral species. As N and P availabilities decreased, late seral species displayed characteristics indicative of increasing competitive advantage over those of early seral species. Root: shoot ratios of the five species primarily reflected patterns related to lifeform, but with some early and late seral characteristics. Results from this study 1) confirm that nutrient use pattern, nutrient availability, and seral position relationships characteristic of mesic ecosystems hold equally true for semiarid systems, and 2) suggest that nutrients are important organizing factors in semiarid ecosystems.