Journal of Mountain Science

, Volume 16, Issue 9, pp 2039–2047 | Cite as

C:N:P stoichiometry of perennial herbs’ organs in the alpine steppe of the northern Tibetan Plateau

  • Xing-xing Ma
  • Jiang-tao Hong
  • Xiao-dan WangEmail author


The patterns of C:N:P stoichiometry across ecosystems are important in understanding biogeochemical processes. The stoichiometry of nutrients at the leaf and root level have been reported previously, but relationships of other plant organs, such as stems and the reproductive organs, remains unclear. We collected 228 samples of leaves, roots, stems and reproductive organs from 11 common plant species at 25 sites on the Tibetan Plateau to explore the relationships of C:N:P stoichiometry both within and across plant organs. The average C concentrations in the roots, leaves, stems and reproductive organs were 427.32, 410.51, 421.11 and 416.72 mg g−1, respectively. The shoot tissues (leaves, stems and reproductive organs) had significantly higher N and P concentrations than the roots. The N and P concentrations had a significant positive correlation within the same organ. The nutrient concentrations (N and P) and nutrient ratios (C:N, C:P and N:P) were significantly correlated across all pairwise organ combinations. Our data suggest that alpine perennial herbs share similar evolutionary histories and have constrained patterns of covariation for C concentrations, with differential patterns for N and P stoichiometry across organs. Our data also indicate that covarying sets of nutrient traits are consistent across environments and biogeographical regions and demonstrate convergent evolution in plant nutritional characteristics in extreme alpine environments.


Shoot tissues Chemical elements Biogeochemical process Alpine steppe Tibet Plateau 


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This research was supported by the Strategic Priority Program of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (Grant No. XDA20020401), the STS of Chinese Academy of Sciences (KFJ-STS-QYZD-075) and Applied Basic Research Programs of Shanxi Province (201801D221048).


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Copyright information

© Science Press, Institute of Mountain Hazards and Environment, CAS and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of Geographical ScienceShanxi Normal UniversityLinfenChina
  2. 2.Institute of Mountain Hazards and EnvironmentChinese Academy of SciencesChengduChina

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