Vegetation in contrasting soil water sites of upland herbaceous grasslands and N:P ratios as indicators of nutrient limitation
Article Received: 07 June 2004 Accepted: 04 August 2004 Abstract
Effects of differences in long-term water supply were examined on soil characteristics, primary production and species composition in a wet and a dry site of an upland herbaceous grassland. Also the responses of species to N and P enrichments were examined. N and P concentrations of non-legume species were positively related, indicating that biomass N:P ratios seem to be mainly determined by N:P supply ratios. Forbs had generally higher concentrations than graminoids. Intermittent water inundation of soil in the wet site resulted in greater soil N and P availability. The greater productivity of this site promoted the growth of forbs. A fertilizer experiment showed that biomass was limited by N only in the wet site, but by both nutrients in the dry one. The species with the higher N and P concentrations were favored more after N and P enrichment, respectively; however, species enhancement was not related to N:P ratios of species. This indicates that N and P concentrations of species, rather than N:P ratios of species, are better predictors of species responses to N and P enrichment. N:P ratios of whole communities were 8.73 for the wet and 11.36 for the dry site. These values in comparison with the responses of plant communities to N and P fertilization show that thresholds of N:P ratios indicative of N or P limitation are much lower than those found for European wetlands.
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