Oecologia

, Volume 170, Issue 3, pp 857–865 | Cite as

Increasing nitrogen deposition enhances post-drought recovery of grassland productivity in the Mongolian steppe

  • Toshihiko Kinugasa
  • Atsushi Tsunekawa
  • Masato Shinoda
Global change ecology - Original research

Abstract

Arid regions are prone to drought because annual rainfall accumulation depends on a few rainfall events. Natural plant communities are damaged by drought, but atmospheric nitrogen (N) deposition may enhance the recovery of plant productivity after drought. Here, we investigated the effect of increasing N deposition on post-drought recovery of grassland productivity in the Mongolian steppe, and we examined the influence of grazing in this recovery. We added different amounts of N to a Mongolian grassland during two sequential drought years (2006 and 2007) and the subsequent 3 years of normal rainfall (2008–2010) under grazed and nongrazed conditions. Aboveground biomass and number of shoots were surveyed annually for each species. Nitrogen addition increased grassland productivity after drought irrespective of the grazing regime. The increase in grassland productivity was associated with an increase in the size of an annual, Salsola collina, under grazed conditions, and with an increase in shoot emergence of a perennial, Artemisia adamsii, under nongrazed conditions. The addition of low N content simulating N deposition around the study area by the year 2050 did not significantly increase grassland productivity. Our results suggest that increasing N deposition can enhance grassland recovery after a drought even in arid environments, such as the Mongolian steppe. This enhancement may be accompanied by a loss of grassland quality caused by an increase in the unpalatable species A. adamsii and largely depends on future human activities and the consequent deposition of N in Mongolia.

Keywords

Arid region Artemisia adamsii Grazing Palatability Precipitation 

Supplementary material

442_2012_2354_MOESM1_ESM.doc (69 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOC 69 kb)

References

  1. Aerts R, Bobbink R (1999) The impact of atmospheric nitrogen deposition on vegetation processes in terrestrial nonforest ecosystems. In: Langan SJ (ed) The impact of nitrogen deposition on natural and semi-natural ecosystems. Kluwer, Dordrecht, pp 85–122Google Scholar
  2. Aklilu Y, Wekesa M (2001) Livestock and livelihoods in emergencies: lessons learnt from the 1999–2001 emergency response in the pastoral sector in Kenya. OAU-IBAR and Tufts University, Nairobi and MedfordGoogle Scholar
  3. Asian Development Bank (2005) Mongolia: country environmental analysis. Asian Development Bank, ManilaGoogle Scholar
  4. Bai Y, Wu J, Clark CM, Naeem S, Pan Q, Huang J, Zhang L, Guohan X (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
  5. Bartolome JW, Fehmi JS, Jackson RD, Allen-Diaz B (2004) Response of a native perennial grass stand to disturbance in California’s coast range grassland. Restor Ecol 12:279–289CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bobbink R, Hicks K, Galloway J, Spranger T, Alkemade R, Ashmore M, Bustamante M, Cinderby S, Davidson E, Dentener F, Emmett B, Erisman JW, Fenn M, Gilliam F, Nordin A, Pardo L, De Vries W (2010) Global assessment of nitrogen deposition effects on terrestrial plant diversity: a synthesis. Ecol Appl 20:30–59PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Breshears DD, Whicker JJ, Zou CB, Field JP, Allen CD (2009) A conceptual framework for dryland aeolian sediment transport along the grassland-forest continuum: effects of woody plant canopy cover and disturbance. Geomorphology 105:28–38CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Chen Q, Hooper DU, Lin S (2011) Shifts in species composition constrain restoration of overgrazed grassland using nitrogen fertilization in Inner Mongolian steppe, China. PLoS ONE 6:e16909PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Dai A (2011) Drought under global warming: a review. Wiley Interdiscip Rev: Clim Change 2:45–65CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. De Graaf MCC, Bobbink R, Roelofs JGM, Verbeek PJM (1998) Differential effects of ammonium and nitrate on three heathland species. Plant Ecol 135:185–196CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Dentener FJ (2006) Global maps of atmospheric nitrogen deposition, 1860, 1993, and 2050. Data set. Oak Ridge National Laboratory Distributed Active Achieve Center, Oak Ridge (http://daac.ornl.gov/)
  12. Diaz S, Lavorel S, McIntyre S, Falczuk V, Casanoves F, Milchunas DG, Skarpe C, Rusch G, Sternberg M, Noy-Meir I, Landsberg J, Zhang W, Clark H, Campbell BD (2007) Plant trait responses to grazing—a global synthesis. Glob Change Biol 13:313–341CrossRefGoogle 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 10:1135–1142PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Fernandez-Gimenez M, Allen-Diaz B (2001) Vegetation change along gradients from water sources in three grazed Mongolian ecosystems. Plant Ecol 157:101–118CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Galloway JN, Dentener FJ, Capone DG, Boyer EW, Howarth RW, Seitzinger SP, Asner GP, Cleveland CC, Green PA, Holland EA, Karl DM, Michaels AF, Porter JH, Townsend AR, Vorosmarty CJ (2004) Nitrogen cycles: past, present, and future. Biogeochemistry 70:153–226CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Galloway JN, Townsend AR, Erisman JW, Bekunda M, Cai Z, Freney JR, Martinelli LA, Seitzinger SP, Sutton MA (2008) Transformation of the nitrogen cycle: recent trends, questions, and potential solutions. Science 320:889–892PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Gao Y, Chen Q, Lin S, Giese M, Brueck H (2011) Resource manipulation effects on net primary production, biomass allocation and rain-use efficiency of two semiarid grassland sites in Inner Mongolia, China. Oecologia 165:855–864PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Goldberg DE, Werner PA (1983) The effects of size of opening in vegetation and litter cover on seedling establishment of goldenrods (Solidago spp.). Oecologia 60:149–155CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Gong X, Chen Q, Lin S, Brueck H, Dittert K, Taube F, Schnyder H (2011) Tradeoffs between nitrogen- and water-use efficiency in dominant species of the semiarid steppe of Inner Mongolia. Plant Soil 340:227–238CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Gough L, Osenberg CW, Gross KL, Collins SL (2000) Fertilization effects on species density and primary productivity in herbaceous plant communities. Oikos 89:428–439CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Gruber N, Galloway JN (2008) An Earth-system perspective of the global nitrogen cycle. Nature 451:293–296PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Hooper DU, Johnson L (1999) Nitrogen limitation in dryland ecosystems: responses to geographical and temporal variation in precipitation. Biogeochemistry 46:247–293Google Scholar
  23. Hornung M, Langan SJ (1999) Nitrogen deposition: sources, impacts and responses in natural and semi-natural ecosystems. In: Langan SJ (ed) The impact of nitrogen deposition on natural and semi-natural ecosystems. Kluwer, Dordrecht, pp 1–13Google Scholar
  24. IPCC (2007) Fourth Assessment Report, Climate Change 2007: Synthesis Report. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  25. Jigjidsuren S, Johnson DA (2003) Forage plants of Mongolia. Admon, UlaanbaatarGoogle Scholar
  26. Johnson DA, Sheehy DP, Miller D, Damiran D (2006) Mongolian rangelands in transition. Secheresse 17:133–141Google Scholar
  27. Karssen C (1967) The light promoted germination of the seeds of Chenopodium album L. 1. The influence of the incubation time on quality and rate of the response to red light. Acta Bot Neerland 16:156–161Google Scholar
  28. Le Houèrou HN (1996) Climate change, drought and desertification. J Arid Environ 34:133–185CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. LeBauer DS, Treseder KK (2008) Nitrogen limitation of net primary productivity in terrestrial ecosystems is globally distributed. Ecology 89:371–379PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Li J, Lin S, Taube F, Pan Q, Dittert K (2011) Above and belowground net primary productivity of grassland influenced by supplemental water and nitrogen in Inner Mongolia. Plant Soil 340:253–264CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Loeser MRR, Sisk TD, Crews TE (2007) Impact of grazing intensity during drought in an Arizona grassland. Conserv Biol 21:87–97PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Lu CQ, Tian HQ (2007) Spatial and temporal patterns of nitrogen deposition in China: synthesis of observational data. J Geophys Res 112:D22S05. doi:10.1029/2006JD007990
  33. Mishra AK, Singh VP (2010) A review of drought concepts. J Hydrol 391:202–216CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Newman EI (1973) Competition and diversity in herbaceous vegetation. Nature 244:310CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Pearson J, Stewart GR (1993) The deposition of atmospheric ammonia and its effects on plants. New Phytol 125:283–305CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Pettit NE, Froend RH (2001) Long-term changes in the vegetation after the cessation of livestock grazing in Eucalyptus marginata (jarrah) woodland remnants. Austral Ecol 26:22–31CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Rao L, Allen E (2010) Combined effects of precipitation and nitrogen deposition on native and invasive winter annual production in California deserts. Oecologia 162:1035–1046PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Ronnenberg K, Wesche K (2011) Effects of fertilization and irrigation on productivity, plant nutrient contents and soil nutrients in southern Mongolia. Plant Soil 340:239–251CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Ronnenberg K, Hensen I, Wesche K (2011) Contrasting effects of precipitation and fertilization on seed viability and production of Stipa krylovii in Mongolia. Basic Appl Ecol 12:141–151CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Shinoda M, Nachinshonhor GU, Nemoto M (2010a) Impact of drought on vegetation dynamics of the Mongolian steppe: a field experiment. J Arid Environ 74:63–69CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Shinoda M, Kimura R, Mikami M, Tsubo M, Nishihara E, Ishizuka M, Yamada Y, Munkhtsetseg E, Jugder D, Kurosaki Y (2010b) Characteristics of dust emission in the Mongolian steppe during the 2008 DUVEX intensive observational period. Sola 6:9–12CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Sternberg T (2008) Environmental challenges in Mongolia’s dryland pastoral landscape. J Arid Environ 72:1294–1304CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Stevens CJ, Dise NB, Mountford JO, Gowing DJ (2004) Impact of nitrogen deposition on the species richness of grasslands. Science 303:1876–1879PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Stevens CJ, Duprë C, Dorland E, Gaudnik C, Gowing DJG, Bleeker A, Diekmann M, Alard D, Bobbink R, Fowler D, Corcket E, Mountford JO, Vandvik V, Aarrestad PA, Muller S, Dise NB (2010) Nitrogen deposition threatens species richness of grasslands across Europe. Environ Pollut 158:2940–2945PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Stevens CJ, Duprè C, Gaudnik C, Dorland E, Dise N, Gowing D, Bleeker A, Alard D, Bobbink R, Fowler D, Vandvik V, Corcket E, Mountford JO, Aarrestad PA, Muller S, Diekmann M (2011a) Changes in species composition of European acid grasslands observed along a gradient of nitrogen deposition. J Veg Sci 22:207–215CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Stevens CJ, Manning P, van den Berg LJL, de Graaf MCC, Wamelink GWW, Boxman AW, Bleeker A, Vergeer P, Arroniz-Crespo M, Limpens J, Lamers LPM, Bobbink R, Dorland E (2011b) Ecosystem responses to reduced and oxidised nitrogen inputs in European terrestrial habitats. Environ Pollut 159:665–676PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Van Den Berg LJL, Peters CJH, Ashmore MR, Roelofs JGM (2008) Reduced nitrogen has a greater effect than oxidised nitrogen on dry heathland vegetation. Environ Pollut 154:359–369PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Vincent EM, Roberts EH (1977) Interaction of light, nitrate and alternating temperature in promoting germination of dormant seeds of common weed species. Seed Sci Technol 5:659–670Google Scholar
  49. Vincent EM, Roberts EH (1979) Influence of chilling, light and nitrate on the germination of dormant seeds of common weed species. Seed Sci Technol 7:3–14Google Scholar
  50. Vitousek PM, Aber JD, Howarth RH, Likens GE, Matson PA, Schindler DW, Schlesinger WH, Tilman DG (1997) Human alteration of the global nitrogen cycle: Source and consequences. Ecol Appl 7:737–750Google Scholar
  51. Vitousek PM, Hattenschwiler S, Olander L, Allison S (2002) Nitrogen and nature. Ambio 31:97–101PubMedGoogle Scholar
  52. Vostokova EA, Gunin PD (2005) Ecosystems of Mongolia. Russian Academy of Sciences, MoscowGoogle Scholar
  53. Wesche K, Ronnenberg K (2010) Effects of NPK fertilisation in arid southern Mongolian desert steppes. Plant Ecol 207:93–105CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Wolfe SA, Nickling WG (1993) The protective role of sparse vegetation in wind erosion. Prog Phys Geogr 17:50–68CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Xia J, Wan S (2008) Global response patterns of terrestrial plant species to nitrogen addition. New Phytol 179:428–439PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Yoshihara Y, Chimeddorj B, Buuveibaatar B (2009) Heavy grazing constraints on foraging behavior of Mongolian livestock. Grassl Sci 55:29–35CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Toshihiko Kinugasa
    • 1
  • Atsushi Tsunekawa
    • 2
  • Masato Shinoda
    • 2
  1. 1.Faculty of AgricultureTottori UniversityTottoriJapan
  2. 2.Arid Land Research CenterTottori UniversityTottoriJapan

Personalised recommendations