Imbalanced plant stoichiometry at contrasting geologic-derived phosphorus sites in subtropics: the role of microelements and plant functional group
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Background and Aim
Subtropical soils are generally characterized as deficient in phosphorus (P), calcium (Ca) and magnesium (Mg), but rich in iron (Fe) and aluminum (Al). However, soils developed in phosphate rock are extremely P-rich in subtropical forests, southwestern China. Factors controlling plant stoichiometric traits across variable P sites are still not clear.
We investigated leaf macroelements (C, N, P, K, Ca and Mg), microelements (Mn, Fe, Zn, and Cu), and non-essential elements (Na and Al) and their element:P ratios for 21 woody plant species at both P-rich and P-deficient sites.
Plants between the two P type sites were mainly discriminated by Mn, Al, N and their P ratios, and between functional groups by Cu, Fe, Zn and their P ratios. There were higher leaf N, P, K, Ca, Fe and Zn concentrations but lower Mn, Cu and Al at the P-rich sites. Evergreen conifers displayed strict homeostasis while evergreen and deciduous broadleaf were more plastic and had variable ratios across different nutrients.
Microelements have strong influences on plant stoichiometry to differentiate geologic-derived P sites in subtropics, and three functional group plants have adopted different stoichiometric strategies under variable nutrient conditions.
KeywordsMultiple nutrients Ecological stoichiometry Phosphorus-rich soils Subtropics
This work was financially supported by the National Key R&D Program of China (2016YFC0502501) and the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC 31670626, 31270640 and 31070532). We are grateful to the support by the Instrumental Analysis Center of Shanghai Jiao Tong University. We thank Dr. Wuyuan Yin for his invaluable help in identifying tree species and anonymous reviewers for their precious comments and constructive suggestions to improve this manuscript.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
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