Journal of Mountain Science

, Volume 10, Issue 6, pp 1097–1108 | Cite as

Biomass allocation patterns of alpine grassland species and functional groups along a precipitation gradient on the Northern Tibetan Plateau

  • Jian-shuang Wu
  • Zhen-xi Shen
  • Xian-zhou Zhang
  • Pei-li ShiEmail author


Variations in the fractions of biomass allocated to functional components are widely considered as plant responses to resource availability for grassland plants. Observations indicated shoots isometrically relates to roots at the community level but allometrically at the species level in Tibetan alpine grasslands. These differences may result from the specific complementarity of functional groups between functional components, such as leaf, root, stem and reproductive organ. To test the component complementary responses to regional moisture variation, we conducted a multi-site transect survey to measure plant individual size and component biomass fractions of common species belonging to the functional groups: forbs, grasses, legumes and sedges on the Northern Tibetan Plateau in peak growing season in 2010. Along the mean annual precipitation (MAP) gradient, we sampled 70 species, in which 20 are in alpine meadows, 20 in alpine steppes, 15 in alpine desert-steppes and 15 in alpine deserts, respectively. Our results showed that the size of alpine plants is small with individual biomass mostly lower than 1.0 g. Plants keep relative conservative component fractions across alpine grasslands at the individual level. However, the complementary responses between functional components to moisture variations specifically differ among functional groups. These results indicate that functional group diversity may be an effective tool for scaling biomass allocation patterns from individual up to community level. Therefore, it is necessary and valuable to perform intensive and systematic studies on identification and differentiation the influences of compositional changes in functional groups on ecosystem primary services and processes.


Biomass fractions Complementary response Functional components Functional groups Changtang Plateau 


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Copyright information

© Science Press, Institute of Mountain Hazards and Environment, CAS and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jian-shuang Wu
    • 1
  • Zhen-xi Shen
    • 1
  • Xian-zhou Zhang
    • 1
  • Pei-li Shi
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Lhasa National Ecological Research Station, Key Laboratory of Ecosystem Network Observation and Modelling, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources ResearchChinese Academy of sciencesBeijingChina

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