Plant and Soil

, Volume 334, Issue 1–2, pp 209–219

Nitrogen fertilization and fire act independently on foliar stoichiometry in a temperate steppe

  • Qiang Cui
  • Xiao-Tao Lü
  • Qi-Bing Wang
  • Xing-Guo Han
Regular Article

Abstract

Nitrogen (N) fertilization, as a grassland management strategy, has been widely used to improve forage quality and increase the productivity of grasslands degraded by overstocking. It is widely accepted that N addition will alter ecosystem structure and function, and that these effects may be altered by natural disturbances, such as fire. We examined the effects of annual burning and N fertilization (17.5 g N m−2 year−1, at a surplus rate in order to simulate agriculture treatment) on foliar chemistry and stoichiometric ratios of eight dominant species (Leymus chinensis, Stipa grandis, Cleistogenes squarrosa, Potentilla bifurca, Thalictrum squarrosum, Artemisia frigida, Kochia prostrata and Caragana microphylla) in a temperate steppe in northern China. After 3 years of treatments, annual burning significantly increased soil extractable phosphorus (P) concentration but showed no effects on soil inorganic N concentration, whereas N fertilization caused a significant increase in inorganic N concentration but not of extractable P. Species differed substantially with respect to all nutritional and stoichiometric variables. Both annual burning and N fertilization caused significant increases in foliar N and P concentrations and thus decreases in carbon (C):N and C:P ratios. While annual burning showed no effects on N:P ratios, N fertilization produced higher N:P ratios. However, species responded idiosyncratically to both fire and N fertilization in terms of foliar N concentration, C:N and N:P ratio. In addition, there was no interaction between fire and N fertilization that affected all variables. This study suggests that both annual burning and N fertilization have direct impacts on plant elemental composition and that fire- and N addition-induced changes of community composition may have important consequences for plant-mediated biogeochemical cycling pathways in temperate steppe ecosystem.

Keywords

C:N:P Ecological stoichiometry Grassland Nitrogen addition Prescribed burning Restoration 

References

  1. Ågren GI (2008) Stoichiometry and nutrition of plant growth in natural communities. Annu Rev Ecol Evol S 39:153–170CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Anderson TM, Ritchie ME, Mayemba E, Eby S, Grace JB, McNaughton SJ (2007) Forage nutritive quality in the serengeti ecosystem: the roles of fire and herbivory. Am Nat 170:343–357CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. Bai YF, Wu JG, Clark CM, Naeem S, Pan QM, Huang JH, Zhang LX, Han XG (2010) Tradeoffs and thresholds in the effects of nitrogen addition on biodiversity and ecosystem functioning: evidence from Inner Mongolia grasslands. Glob Change Biol 16:358–372CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bennett LT, Judd TS, Adams MA (2002) Growth and nutrient content of perennial grasslands following burning in semi-arid, sub-tropical Australia. Plant Ecol 164:185–199CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Blair JM (1997) Fire, N availability, and plant response in grasslands: a test of the transient maxima hypothesis. Ecology 78:2359–2368CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Briggs JM, Knapp AK, Blair JM, Heisler JL, Hoch GA, Lett MS, McCarron JK (2005) An ecosystem in transition. Causes and consequences of the conversion of mesic grassland to shrubland. Bioscience 55:243–254CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Britton AJ, Helliwell RC, Fisher JM, Gibbs S (2008) Interactive effects of nitrogen deposition and fire on plant and soil chemistry in an alpine heathland. Environ Pollut 156:409–416CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. Cech PG, Kuster T, Edwards PJ, Venterink HO (2008) Effects of herbivory, fire and N2-fixation on nutrient limitation in a humid Afirican Savanna. Ecosystems 11:991–1004CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Clark CM, Cleland EE, Collins SL, Fargione JE, Gough L, Gross KL, Pennings SC, Suding KN, Grace JB (2007) Environmental and plant community determinants of species loss following nitrogen enrichment. Ecol Lett 10:596–607CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. Contant RT, Paustian K, Elliott ET (2001) Grassland management and conversion into grassland: effects on soil carbon. Ecol Appl 11:343–355CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Craine JM, Morrow C, Stock WD (2008) Nutrient concentration ratios and co-limitation in South African grasslands. New Phytol 179:829–836CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. Dyer AR, Rice KJ (1997) Intraspecific and diffuse competition: the response of Nassella pulchra in a California grassland. Ecol Appl 7:484–492CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Elser JJ, Bracken MES, Cleland EE, Gruner DS, Harpole WS, Hillebrand H, Ngai JT, Seabloom EW, Shurin JB, Smith JE (2007) Global analysis of nitrogen and phosphorus limitation of primary producers in freshwater, marine and terrestrial ecosystems. Ecol Lett 10:1135–1142CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. Esmeijer-Liu A, Aerts R, Kurschner W, Bobbink R, Lotter A, Verhoeven J (2009) Nitrogen enrichment lowers Betula pendula green and yellow leaf stoichiometry irrespective of effects of elevated carbon dioxide. Plant Soil 316:311–322CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Güsewell S, Gessner MO (2009) N:P ratios influence litter decomposition and colonization by fungi and bacteria in microcosms. Funct Ecol 23:211–219CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Granath G, Strengbom J, Breeuwer A, Heijmans M, Berendse F, Rydin H (2009) Photosynthetic performance in Sphagnum transplanted along a latitudinal nitrogen deposition gradient. Oecologia 159:705–715CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. Hall SR, Shurin JB, Diehl S, Nisbet RM (2007) Food quality, nutrient limitation of secondary production, and the strength of trophic cascades. Oikos 116:1128–1143CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. He JS, Fang JY, Wang ZH, Guo DL, Flynn DFB, Geng Z (2006) Stoichiometry and large-scale patterns of leaf carbon and nitrogen in the grassland biomes of China. Oecologia 149:115–122CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. He JS, Wang L, Flynn DFB, Wang XP, Ma WH, Fang JY (2008) Leaf nitrogen: phosphorus stoichiometry across Chinese grassland biomes. Oecologia 155:301–310CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. Henry HAL, Chiariello NR, Vitousek PM, Mooney HA, Field CB (2006) Interactive effects of fire, elevated carbon dioxide, nitrogen deposition, and precipitation on a California annual grassland. Ecosystems 9:1066–1075CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Huang JJ, Boerner REJ (2007) Effects of fire alone or combined with thinning on tissue nutrient concentrations and nutrient resorption in Desmodium nudiflorum. Oecologia 153:233–243CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  22. Jiang GM, Han XG, Wu JG (2006) Restoration and management of the Inner Mongolia grassland require a sustainable stragegy. AMBIO 35:269–270CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  23. Knops JMH, Naeem S, Reich PB (2007) The impact of elevated CO2, increased nitrogen availability and biodiversity on plant tissue quality and decomposition. Glob Change Biol 13:1960–1971CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Kozovits AR, Bustamante MMC, Garofalo CR, Bucci S, Franco AC, Goldstein G, Meinzer FC (2007) Nutrient resorption and patterns of litter production and decomposition in a neotropical savanna. Funct Ecol 21:1034–1043CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. LeBauer DS, Treseder KK (2008) Nitrogen limitation of net primary productivity in terrestrial ecosystems is globally distributed. Ecology 89:371–379CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  26. Liu WX, Xu WH, Han Y, Wang CH, Wan SQ (2007) Responses of microbial biomass and respiration of soil to topography, burning, and nitrogen fertilization in a temperate steppe. Biol Fert Soils 44:259–268CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. McNaughton SJ, Stronach NRH, Georgiadis NJ (1998) Combustion in natural fires and global emissions budgets. Ecol Appl 8:464–468CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Menge DNL, Field CB (2007) Simulated global changes alter phosphorus demand in annual grassland. Glob Change Biol 13:2582–2591CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Niklas KJ, Owens T, Reich PB, Cobb ED (2005) Nitrogen/phosphorus leaf stoichiometry and the scaling of plant growth. Ecol Lett 8:636–642CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Niklaus PA, Leadley PW, Stocklin J, Korner C (1998) Nutrient relations in calcareous grassland under elevated CO2. Oecologia 116:67–75CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Novotny AM, Schade JD, Hobbie SE, Kay AD, Kyle M, Reich PB, Elser JJ (2007) Stoichiometric response of nitrogen-fixing and non-fixing dicots to manipulations of CO2, nitrogen, and diversity. Oecologia 151:687–696CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  32. Ojima DS, Schimel DS, Parton WJ, Owensby CE (1994) Long- and short-term effects of fire on nitrogen cycling in tallgrass prairie. Biogeochemistry 24:67–84CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Pan QM, Bai YF, Han XG, Yang J (2005) Effects of nitrogen additions on a Leymus chinensis population in typical steppe of Inner Mongolia. Acta Phytoecologica Sinica 29:311–317Google Scholar
  34. Perring MP, Hedin LO, Levin SA, McGroddy M, de Mazancourt C (2008) Increased plant growth from nitrogen addition should conserve phosphorus in terrestrial ecosystems. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 105:1971–1976CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  35. Rau BM, Blank RR, Chambers JC, Johnson DW (2007) Prescribed fire in a Great Basin sagebrush ecosystem: dynamics of soil extractable nitrogen and phosphorus. J Arid Environ 71:362–375CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Reich PB, Peterson DW, Wedin DA, Wrage K (2001) Fire and vegetation effects on productivity and nitrogen cycling across a forest-grassland continuum. Ecology 82:1703–1719Google Scholar
  37. Schimel DS, Kittel TGF, Knapp AK, Seastedt TR, Parton WJ, Brown VB (1991) Physiological interactions along resource gradients in a tallgrass prairie. Ecology 72:672–684CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Turner CL, Blair JM, Schartz RJ, Neel JC (1997) Soil N and plant responses to fire, topography, and supplemental N in tallgrass prairie. Ecology 78:1832–1843CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Van de Vijver C, Poot P, Prins HHT (1999) Causes of increased nutrient concentrations in post-fire regrowth in an East African savanna. Plant Soil 214:173–185CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Vance CP, Uhde-Stone C, Allan DL (2003) Phosphorus acquisition and use: critical adaptations by plants for securing a nonrenewable resource. New Phytol 157:423–447CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Veen GF, Blair JM, Smith MD, Collins SL (2008) Influence of grazing and fire frequency on small-scale plant community structure and resource variability in native tallgrass prairie. Oikos 117:859–866CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Vitousek PM (1982) Nutrient cycling and nutrient use efficiency. Am Nat 119:553–572CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Wan SQ, Hui DF, Luo YQ (2001) Fire effects on nitrogen pools and dynamics in terrestrial ecosystems: a meta-analysis. Ecol Appl 11:1349–1365CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Xia JY, Wan SQ (2008) Global response patterns of terrestrial plant species to nitrogen addition. New Phytol 179:428–439CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  45. Xu WH, Wan SQ (2008) Water- and plant-mediated responses of soil respiration to topography, fire, and nitrogen fertilization in a semiarid grassland in northern China. Soil Biol Biochem 40:679–687CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Zhou LS, Huang JH, Lu FM, Han XG (2009) Effects of prescribed burning and seasonal and interannual climate variation on nitrogen mineralization in a typical steppe in Inner Mongolia. Soil Biol Biochem 41:796–803CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Qiang Cui
    • 1
    • 2
  • Xiao-Tao Lü
    • 1
  • Qi-Bing Wang
    • 1
  • Xing-Guo Han
    • 1
  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Vegetation and Environmental ChangeInstitute of Botany, Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.Graduate University of Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina

Personalised recommendations