, Volume 21, Issue 3, pp 357–370 | Cite as

Spatial patterns of leaf nutrient traits of the plants in the Loess Plateau of China

  • Shuxia Zheng
  • Zhouping ShangguanEmail author
Original Paper


The spatial patterns of leaf nutrient traits of plants in seven sites, Yangling, Yongshou, Tongchuan, Fuxian, Ansai, Mizhi and Shenmu, standing from south to north in the Loess Plateau of China, were studied. The results showed that of the 126 plant samples in the Loess Plateau, the mean leaf organic carbon (C), nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) were 43.8, 2.41, 0.16 and 1.67%, respectively, and ranked in the order of C > N > K > P. Leaf C, N, P and K ranged from 32.6 to 54.8%, 0.82 to 4.58%, 0.06 to 0.35%, and 0.24 to 4.21%, respectively. The mean leaf C/N, C/P and N/P ratios were 21.2, 312 and 15.4, respectively. It is indicated that leaf N in the Loess Plateau was significantly higher than those in Chinese and global flora, but leaf P was significantly lower than that in global flora, which resulted in a higher N/P ratio in the Loess Plateau. The results also showed that leaf C, N, P, K, C/N and C/P ratios varied significantly among the seven life-form groups, which were trees, shrubs, herbages, evergreen trees, deciduous trees, C3 and C4 herbages, but leaf N/P ratio differed little among the seven life-forms. In the sampled species in the Loess Plateau, leaf C was negatively correlated with leaf N, P and K, while leaf N, P and K were positively correlated with one another. In general, leaf N/P ratio increased as the latitude and annual solar radiation increased and the mean annual rainfall and mean annual temperature decreased.


Leaf nutrient Life form Spatial pattern Climatic factor Loess Plateau 



This research was supported by the West-action Program in Chinese Academy of Sciences (Grant No. KZCX2-XB2-05), National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 30230290), the United Scholar’s Item of Talent Training Program in West China of Chinese Academy of Sciences (Grant No. 2005LH01), and the Program for Outstanding Talents and Team in Northwest A & F University.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Soil Erosion and Dryland Farming on the Loess PlateauInstitute of Soil and Water Conservation, Chinese Academy of SciencesYanglingPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.Northwest A & F UniversityYanglingPeople’s Republic of China

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