Responses of litter decomposition and nutrient release rate to water and nitrogen addition differed among three plant species dominated in a semi-arid grassland
- 894 Downloads
Background and aims
Precipitation and nitrogen (N) deposition are predicted to increase in northern China. The present paper aimed to better understand how different dominant species in semi-arid grasslands in this region vary in their litter decomposition and nutrient release responses to increases in precipitation and N deposition.
Above-ground litter of three dominant species (two grasses, Agropyron cristatum and Stipa krylovii, and one forb, Artemisia frigida) was collected from areas without experimental treatments in a semi-arid grassland in Inner Mongolia. Litter decomposition was studied over three years to determine the effects of water and N addition on litter decomposition rate and nutrient dynamics.
Litter mass loss and nutrient release were faster for the forb species than for the two grasses during decomposition. Both water and N addition increased litter mass loss of the grass A. cristatum, while the treatments showed no impacts on that of the forb A. frigida. Supplemental N had time-dependent, positive effects on litter mass loss of the grass S. krylovii. During the three-year decomposition study, the release of N from litter was inhibited by N addition for the three species, and it was promoted by water addition for the two grasses. Across all treatments, N and potassium (K) were released from the litter of all three species, whereas calcium (Ca) was accumulated. Phosphorus (P) and magnesium (Mg) were released from the forb litter but accumulated in the grass litter after three years of decomposition.
Our findings revealed that the litter decomposition response to water and N supplementation differed among dominant plant species in a semi-arid grassland, indicating that changes in dominant plant species induced by projected increases in precipitation and N deposition are likely to affect litter decomposition, nutrient cycling, and further biogeochemical cycles in this grassland. The asynchronous nutrient release of different species’ litter found in the present study highlights the complexity of nutrient replenishment from litter decomposition in the temperate steppe under scenarios of enhancing precipitation and N deposition.
KeywordsLitter mass loss Nitrogen deposition Nutrient release Precipitation Perennial forbs Perennial grasses Temperate steppe
We thank the staff of the Duolun Restoration Ecological Research Station for facilitating this study, and Melissa Dawes for the language correction. This work was supported by the National Key Research and Development Program of China (2016YFC0500707), the National Natural Science Foundation of China (41371251, 31370009, 41371076), the Youth Innovation Promotion Association CAS (2014174), and the Sino-Swiss Science and Technology Cooperation (SSSTC) program (Project No. EG 06-032015).
- Berg B, Laskowski R (2006) Litter decomposition: a guide to carbon and nutrient turnover. Academic Press, AmsterdamGoogle Scholar
- Cornwell WK, Cornelissen JHC, Amatangelo K, Dorrepaal E, Eviner VT, Godoy O, Hobbie SE, Hoorens B, Kurokawa H, Pérez-Harguindeguy N, Quested HM, Santiago LS, Wardle DA, Wright IJ, Aerts R, Allison SD, van Bodegom P, Brovkin V, Chatain A, Callaghan TV, Díaz S, Garnier E, Gurvich DE, Kazakou E, Klein JA, Read J, Reich PB, Soudzilovskaia NA, Vaieretti MV, Westoby M (2008) Plant species traits are the predominant control on litter decomposition rates within biomes worldwide. Ecol Lett 11:1065–1071CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Fay PA, Prober SM, Harpole WS, Knops JMH, Bakker JD, Borer ET, Lind EM, MacDougall AS, Seabloom EW, Wragg PD, Adler PB, Blumenthal DM, Buckley Y, Chu C, Cleland EE, Collins SL, Davies KF, Du G, Feng X, Firn J, Gruner DS, Hagenah N, Hautier Y, Heckman RW, Jin VL, Kirkman KP, Klein J, Ladwig LM, Li Q, McCulley RL, Melbourne BA, Mitchell CE, Moore JL, Morgan JW, Risch AC, Schuetz M, Stevens CJ, Wedin DA, Yang LH (2015) Grassland productivity limited by multiple nutrients. Nat Plants 1:15080CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Kuo S (1996) Phosphorus. In: Sparks DL, Page AL, Loeppert PA, Soltanpour PN, Tabatabai MA, Johnston CT et al (eds) Methods of soil analysis Part 3: chemical methods. Soil Science Society of America and American Society of Agronomy, MadisonGoogle Scholar
- Portillo-Estrada M, Pihlatie M, Korhonen JFJ, Levula J, Frumau AKF, Ibrom A, Lembrechts JJ, Morillas L, Horvath L, Jones SK, Niinemets U (2016) Climatic controls on leaf litter decomposition across European forests and grasslands revealed by reciprocal litter transplantation experiments. Biogeosciences 13:1621–1633CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Wang X, Xu Z, Yan C, Luo W, Wang R, Han X, Jiang Y, Li M-H (2017) Responses and sensitivity of N, P and mobile carbohydrates of dominant species to increased water, N and P availability in semiarid grasslands in northern China. J Plant Ecol. doi: 10.1093/jpe/rtw053
- Xu GL, Kuster TM, Guenthardt-Goerg MS, Dobbertin M, Li M-H (2012a) Seasonal exposure to drought and air warming affects soil Collembola and mites. PLoS One 7:e43102Google Scholar
- Xu ZW, Wan SQ, Ren HY, Han XG, Li MH, Cheng WX, Jiang Y (2012b) Effects of water and nitrogen addition on species turnover in temperate grasslands in northern China. PLoS One 7:e39762Google Scholar
- Xu ZW, Wan SQ, Ren HY, Han XG, Jiang Y (2012c) Influences of land use history and short-term nitrogen addition on community structure in temperate grasslands. J Arid Environ 87:103–109Google Scholar