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Effect of nitrogen and phosphorus addition on leaf nutrient concentrations and nutrient resorption efficiency of two dominant alpine grass species

Abstract

Nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) are two essential nutrients that determine plant growth and many nutrient cycling processes. Increasing N and P deposition is an important driver of ecosystem changes. However, in contrast to numerous studies about the impacts of nutrient addition on forests and temperate grasslands, how plant foliar stoichiometry and nutrient resorption respond to N and P addition in alpine grasslands is poorly understood. Therefore, we conducted an N and P addition experiment (involving control, N addition, P addition, and N+P addition) in an alpine grassland on Kunlun Mountains (Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, China) in 2016 and 2017 to investigate the changes in leaf nutrient concentrations (i.e., leaf N, Leaf P, and leaf N:P ratio) and nutrient resorption efficiency of Seriphidium rhodanthum and Stipa capillata, which are dominant species in this grassland. Results showed that N addition has significant effects on soil inorganic N (NO3-N and NH4+-N) and leaf N of both species in the study periods. Compared with green leaves, leaf nutrient concentrations and nutrient resorption efficiency in senesced leaves of S. rhodanthum was more sensitive to N addition, whereas N addition influenced leaf N and leaf N:P ratio in green and senesced leaves of S. capillata. N addition did not influence N resorption efficiency of the two species. P addition and N+P addition significantly improved leaf P and had a negative effect on P resorption efficiency of the two species in the study period. These influences on plants can be explained by increasing P availability. The present results illustrated that the two species are more sensitive to P addition than N addition, which implies that P is the major limiting factor in the studied alpine grassland ecosystem. In addition, an interactive effect of N+P addition was only discernable with respect to soil availability, but did not affect plants. Therefore, exploring how nutrient characteristics and resorption response to N and P addition in the alpine grassland is important to understand nutrient use strategy of plants in terrestrial ecosystems.

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Acknowledgements

This research was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (41807335), the Shandong Provincial Natural Science Foundation, China (ZR2020MC040), the National Key Technology Research and Development Program of China (2019YFC0507602-2), the Youth Innovation Promotion Association of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (2020434), and the National Postdoctoral Program for Innovative Talents (BX201700279).

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Correspondence to Lei Li.

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Liu, Y., Li, L., Li, X. et al. Effect of nitrogen and phosphorus addition on leaf nutrient concentrations and nutrient resorption efficiency of two dominant alpine grass species. J. Arid Land 13, 1041–1053 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40333-021-0080-7

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s40333-021-0080-7

Keywords

  • leaf nutrient concentration
  • nutrient resorption efficiency
  • leaf N:P ratio
  • N addition
  • P addition
  • Seriphidium rhodanthum
  • Stipa capillata