Sandy grassland in northern China is a fragile ecosystem with poor soil fertility. Exploring how plant species regulate growth and nutrient absorption under the background of nitrogen (N) deposition is crucial for the management of the sandy grassland ecosystem. We carried out a field experiment with six N levels in the Hulunbuir Sandy Land of China from 2014 to 2016 and explored the Agropyron michnoi Roshev. responses of both aboveground and belowground biomasses and carbon (C), N and phosphorus (P) concentrations in the plant tissues and soil. With increasing N addition, both aboveground and belowground biomasses and C, N and P concentrations in the plant tissues increased and exhibited a single-peak curve. C:N and C:P ratios of the plant tissues first decreased but then increased, while the trend for the N:P ratio was opposite. The peak values of aboveground biomass, belowground biomass and C concentration in the plant tissues occurred at the level of 20 g N/(m2·a), while those of the N and P concentrations in the plant tissues occurred at the level of 15 g N/(m2·a). The maximum growth percentages of aboveground and belowground biomasses were 324.2% and 75.9%, respectively, and the root to shoot ratio (RSR) decreased with the addition of N. N and P concentrations in the plant tissues were ranked in the order of leaves>roots>stems, while C concentration was ranked as roots>leaves>stems. The increase in N concentration in the plant tissues was the largest (from 34% to 162%), followed by the increase in P (from 10% to 33%) and C (from 8% to 24%) concentrations. The aboveground biomass was positively and linearly correlated with leaf C, N and P, and soil C and N concentrations, while the belowground biomass was positively and linearly correlated with leaf N and soil C concentrations. These results showed that the accumulation of N and P in the leaves caused the increase in the aboveground biomass, while the accumulation of leaf N resulted in the increase in the belowground biomass. N deposition can alter the allocation of C, N and P stoichiometry in the plant tissues and has a high potential for increasing plant biomass, which is conducive to the restoration of sandy grassland.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Ågren G I. 2004. The C:N:P stoichiometry of autotrophs-theory and observations. Ecology Letters, 7(3): 185–191.
Bai Y F, Wu J G, Clark C M, et al. 2010. Tradeoffs and thresholds in the effects of nitrogen addition on biodiversity and ecosystem functioning: evidence from Inner Mongolia grasslands. Global Change Biology, 16(1): 358–372.
Bai Y F, Li L H, Huang J H, et al. 2001. Exacerbated nitrogen limitation ends transient stimulation of grassland productivity by increased precipitation. Acta Botanica Sinica, 43: 280–287. (in Chinese)
Clark C M, Tilman D. 2008. Loss of plant species after chronic low-level nitrogen deposition to prairie grasslands. Nature, 451: 712–715.
Delgado-Baquerizo M, Maestre F T, Gallardo A, et al. 2013. Decoupling of soil nutrient cycles as a function of aridity in global drylands. Nature, 502: 672–676.
Duan L, Hao J M, Xie S D, et al. 2002. Estimating critical loads of sulfur and nitrogen for Chinese soils by steady state method. Environmental Science, 23(2): 7–12.
Elser J J, Fagan W F, Denno R F, et al. 2000. Nutritional constraints in terrestrial and freshwater food webs. Nature, 408: 578–580.
Elser J J, Acharya K, Kyle M, et al. 2010. Growth rate-stoichiometry couplings in diverse biota. Ecology Letters, 6(10): 936–943.
Fenn M E, Baron J S, Allen E B, et al. 2003. Ecological effects of nitrogen deposition in the western United States. BioScience, 53(4): 404–420.
Galloway J N, Dentener F J, Capone D G, et al. 2004. Nitrogen cycles: past, present, and future. Biogeochemistry, 70: 153–226.
Grechi I, Vivin P, Hilbert G, et al. 2007. Effect of light and nitrogen supply on internal C:N balance and control of root-to-shoot biomass allocation in grapevine. Environmental and Experimental Botany, 59(2): 139–149.
Güsewell S. 2004. N: P ratios in terrestrial plants: variation and functional significance. New Phytologist, 164(2): 243–266.
He J S, Fang J, Wang Z, et al. 2006. Stoichiometry and large-scale patterns of leaf carbon and nitrogen in the grassland biomes of China. Oecologia, 149: 115–122.
Hedwall P O, Nordin A, Strengbom J, et al. 2013. Does background nitrogen deposition affect the response of boreal vegetation to fertilization? Oecologia, 173: 615–624.
Hoekstra J M, Boucher T M, Ricketts T H, et al. 2005. Confronting a biome crisis: global disparities of habitat loss and protection. Ecology Letters, 8(1): 23–29.
Huang J Y, Yu H L, Liu J L, et al. 2018. Phosphorus addition changes belowground biomass and C:N:P stoichiometry of two desert steppe plants under simulated N deposition. Scientific Reports, 8: 3400.
Jin X M, Liu J D, Lu X S, et al. 2012. Relationship between vegetateve potential population and actual population of Agropyron michnoi. Acta Prataculturae Sinica, 21(6): 234–240. (in Chinese)
Jobbágy E G, Jackson R B. 2001. The distribution of soil nutrients with depth: global patterns and the imprint of plants. Biogeochemistry, 53: 51–77.
Lee M, Manning P, Rist J, et al. 2010. A global comparison of grassland biomass responses to CO2 and nitrogen enrichment. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 365(1549): 2047–2056.
Li M M, Zhang X C, Pang G W, et al. 2013. The estimation of soil organic carbon distribution and storage in a small catchment area of the loess plateau. Catena, 101: 11–16.
Liu H M, Li J, Wang L L, et al. 2018. Effects of nitrogen addition on the stoichiometric characteristics of plants and soil in the Stipa baicalensis grassland of Inner Mongolia, China. Acta Prataculturae Sinica, 27(7): 25–35. (in Chinese)
Liu X J, Zhang Y, Han W X, et al. 2013. Enhanced nitrogen deposition over China. Nature, 494: 459–462.
Liu Y, Mi G H, Chen F J, et al. 2004. Rhizosphere effect and root growth of two maize (Zea mays L.) genotypes with contrasting P efficiency at low P availability. Plant Science, 167(2): 217–223.
Lu X H, Vitousek P M, Mao Q G, et al. 2018. Plant acclimation to long-term high nitrogen deposition in an N-rich tropical forest. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of USA, 115(20): 5187–5192.
Magill A H, Aber J D, Berntson G M, et al. 2000. Long-term nitrogen additions and nitrogen saturation in two temperate forests. Ecosystems, 3: 238–253.
Menge D N L, Field C B. 2007. Simulated global changes alter phosphorus demand in annual grassland. Globle Change Biology, 13(12): 2582–2591.
Niu S L, Yang H J, Zhang Z, et al. 2009. Non-additive effects of water and nitrogen addition on ecosystem carbon exchange in a temperate steppe. Ecosystems, 12: 915–926.
Song X Z, Li Q, Gu H H. 2017. Effect of nitrogen deposition and management practices on fine root decomposition in moso bamboo plantations. Plant and Soil, 410: 207–215.
Ti C P, Yan X Y. 2010. Estimation of atmospheric nitrogen wet deposition in China’s mainland from based on N emission data. Journal of Agro-Environment Science, 29: 1606–1611. (in Chinese)
Tian H Q, Chen G S, Zhang C, et al. 2010. Pattern and variation of C:N:P ratios in China’s soils: a synthesis of observational data. Biogeochemistry, 98: 139–151.
Vitousek P M, Porder S, Houlton B Z, et al. 2010. Terrestrial phosphorus limitation: mechanisms, implications, and nitrogen-phosphorus interactions. Ecological Application, 20(1): 5–15.
Wang S Q, Yu G R. 2008. Ecological stoichiometry characteristics of ecosystem carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus elements. Acta Ecologica Sinica, 28(8): 3937–3947. (in Chinese)
Wardle D A, Gundale M J, Jäderlund A, et al. 2013. Decoupled long-term effects of nutrient enrichment on aboveground and belowground properties in subalpine tundra. Ecology, 94(4): 904–919.
Wrage N, Strodthoff J, Cuchillo H M, et al. 2011. Phytodiversity of temperate permanent grasslands: ecosystem services for agriculture and livestock management for diversity conservation. Biodiversity and Conservation, 20: 3317–3339.
Wu T G, Yu M K, Wang G, et al. 2012. Leaf nitrogen and phosphorus stoichiometry across forty-two woody species in Southeast China. Biochemical Systematics and Ecology, 44: 255–263.
Xu B C, Gao Z J, Wang J, et al. 2016. N:P ratio of the grass Bothriochloa ischaemum mixed with the legume Lespedeza davurica under varying water and fertilizer supplies. Plant and Soil, 400: 67–79.
Yahdjian L, Gherardi L, Sala O E. 2011. Nitrogen limitation in arid-subhumid ecosystems: a meta-analysis of fertilization studies. Journal of Arid Environments, 75(8): 675–680.
Yu Y F, Peng W X, Song T Q, et al. 2014. Stoichiometric characteristics of plant and soil C, N and P in different forest types in depressions between Karst hills, Southwest China. Chinese Journal of Applied Ecology, 25(4): 947–954.
Zhang L X, Bai Y F, Han X G. 2003. Application of N:P stoichiometry to ecology studies. Acta Botanica Sinica, 45: 1009–1018. (in Chinese)
Zhang L X, Bai Y F, Han X G. 2004. Differential responses of N:P stoichiometry of Leymus chinensis and Carex korshinskyi to N additions in a steppe ecosystem in Nei Mongol. Acta Botanica Sinica, 46(2): 259–270. (in Chinese)
Zhang R, Pan H W, He B T, et al. 2018. Nitrogen and phosphorus stoichiometry of Schima superba under nitrogen deposition. Scientific Reports, 8: 13669.
Zhou Z H, Wang C K, Zhang Q Z. 2015. The effect of land use change on soil carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus contents and their stoichiometry in temperate sapling stands in Northeastern China. Acta Ecologica Sinica, 35: 6694–6702. (in Chinese)
Zhu J X, Wang Q F, He N P, et al. 2016. Imbalanced atmospheric nitrogen and phosphorus depositions in China: implications for nutrient limitation. Journal of Geophysical Research-Biogeoscience, 121(6): 1605–1616.
This study was funded by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (31560657) and the Natural Science Foundation of Inner Mongolia, China (2018MS03079). We gratefully acknowledge the help of students, technicians and field workers in the field investigation.
About this article
Cite this article
Jin, X., Yang, X., Zhou, Z. et al. Ecological stoichiometry and biomass responses of Agropyron michnoi under simulated N deposition in a sandy grassland, China. J. Arid Land 12, 741–751 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40333-020-0014-9
- nitrogen deposition
- plant tissue
- C, N and P stoichiometry
- sandy grassland