Journal of Soils and Sediments

, Volume 19, Issue 1, pp 49–57 | Cite as

Variation of soil organic carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorus stoichiometry and biogeographic factors across the desert ecosystem of Hexi Corridor, northwestern China

  • Ke Zhang
  • Yongzhong SuEmail author
  • Rong Yang
Soils, Sec 1 • Soil Organic Matter Dynamics and Nutrient Cycling • Research Article



The purposes of present study were to display the vertical distribution of soil organic carbon (SOC), nitrogen (N), and phosphorus (P) stoichiometry; identify the biogeographic characteristics of SOC, N, and P stoichiometry along an aridity gradient across the desert ecosystem of Hexi Corridor; and determine how biogeographic distribution patterns of SOC, N, and P stoichiometry are related to vegetation, soil texture, geography, and climate.

Materials and methods

We investigated the distribution and characteristics of SOC, N, and P stoichiometry based on samples collected from Hexi Corridor during 2011–2012 with total 400 plots of 80 sites. This region presents a precipitation gradient from about 250 mm in the east to less than 50 mm in the west. The measured variables included belowground and aboveground biomass, pH, bulk density, sand, clay, silt, SOC, N, and P contents. ANOVA analysis, reduced major axis, redundancy analysis, Person’s correlation, and regression analysis were used to analysis the variation of SOC, N, and P stoichiometry and related biogeographic factors.

Results and discussion

In present study, SOC, N, and P contents decreased significantly with increasing soil depth. C/N did not change significantly, while C/P and N/P decreased significantly. SOC and N, SOC and P, and N and P were well constrained within 0–100 cm. SOC, N, and P contents in 0–20 cm were higher than them in other studies. Vegetation, soil texture, climate, and geography could explain 91.6% of the total variance of soil stoichiometry. The impact of latitude and longitude on SOC, N, and P stoichiometry was mainly caused by the redistribution of precipitation, while the impact of altitude mainly resulted from the variation of temperature. With increasing aridity, SOC, N, and P contents and C/N/P ratios reduced consistently with inconsistent decrease rates.


Our results suggested that the interaction of vegetation structure, soil condition, and shortage of precipitation should be the main driver for the lower contents and much shallower distributions of SOC, N, and P of Hexi Corridor. The increasing aridity should be the critical factor that is responsible for the decrease of SOC, N, and P contents and C/N/P ratios. This study contributes to the understanding of soil stoichiometry in the desert ecosystem.


Aridity Desert ecosystem Hexi Corridor Nitrogen and phosphorus Soil organic carbon Stoichiometry 



We sincerely appreciate Dr. Yongle Chen from Shenzhen University and Dr. Jingjing Du from Zhengzhou University of Light Industry for checking the English language of our manuscript.

Funding information

This study was supported by the National Key Research and Development Program of China (No. 2017YFC0504304).

Supplementary material

11368_2018_2007_MOESM1_ESM.docx (197 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 196 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Material and Chemical EngineeringZhengzhou University of Light IndustryZhengzhouChina
  2. 2.Key Laboratory of Pollution Treatment and ResourceChina National Light IndustryZhengzhouChina
  3. 3.Collaborative Innovation Center of Environmental Pollution Control and Ecological RestorationZhengzhouChina
  4. 4.Linze Inland River Basin Research Station, CAS/Key Laboratory of Eco-Hydrology in Inland River Basin, CASNorthwest Institute of Eco-Environment and ResourcesLanzhouChina

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