Changes in nitrogen and phosphorus limitation during secondary succession in a karst region in southwest China
- 1k Downloads
Background and aims
Nitrogen (N) and/or phosphorus (P) limitation to primary productivity and other biological processes can change in a variety of ways as ecosystems develop. How N limitation and P limitation change from the early to the late stages of a secondary succession following farmland abandonment remains unclear in karst ecosystems in southwest China.
We used community foliar N:P ratio, soil alkaline phosphatase activity (APA) and other indicators of nutrient status (soil organic carbon [SOC], total soil N [TN], and total soil P [TP], Alkali-hydrolyzable N [AN], and available soil phosphorus [AP] concentrations) to examine changes in N and P status during secondary vegetation succession. Four types of plant communities (grasslands, shrublands, secondary forest, and primary forest) represented the early, middle, late, and very late successional stages, respectively.
Community foliar N:P ratio, APA, and APA per unit SOC increased as succession proceeded from the grassland to the secondary and primary forest communities. Moreover, community foliar N:P ratios in the grassland were positively correlated with soil TN, while community foliar N:P ratios in the secondary forest and primary forest were negatively correlated with soil TP, but were not correlated with soil TN. Community foliar N:P ratios in the shrubland were not correlated with either soil TN or TP.
Our results suggest that the grassland in the karst region of southwest China is N limited, that the secondary and primary forests are P limited, and that the shrubland is constrained by N and P together or by other nutrients.
KeywordsNitrogen limitation Phosphorus limitation N:P ratio Phosphatase activity Vegetation succession Karst ecosystems
Alkaline phosphatase activity
Soil organic carbon
This study was supported by the National Basic Research Program of China (2015CB452703), the Chinese Academy of Sciences through its Hundred Talent Program to Dejun Li, two grants from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (31270555 and 31300448), and a grant from the Western Light Program from CAS to Wei Zhang. We appreciate Dr. Harry Olde Venterink and the anonymous reviewers for their time and constructive comments and suggestions.
- Aerts R, Chapin FS (2000) The mineral nutrition of wild plants revisited: a re-evaluation of processes and patterns. Adv Ecol Res 30:1–67Google Scholar
- Broadbent EN, Zambrano AMA, Asner GP, Soriano M, Field CB, de Souza HR, Pena-Claros M, Adams RI, Dirzo R, Giles L (2014) Integrating stand and soil properties to understand foliar nutrient dynamics during forest succession following slash-and-burn agriculture in the Bolivian Amazon. Plos One 9Google Scholar
- He JS, Wang L, Flynn DFB, Wang X, Ma W, Fang J (2008a) Leaf nitrogen:phosphorus stoichiometry across Chinese grassland biomes. Oecologia 155:301–310Google Scholar
- Jeffries P, Gianinazzi S, Perotto S, Turnau K, Barea J-M (2003) The contribution of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi in sustainable maintenance of plant health and soil fertility. Biol Fertil Soils 37:1–16Google Scholar
- Liu C, Lang Y, Li S, Piao H, Tu C, Liu Z, Zhang W, Zhu S (2009) Researches on biogeochemical processes and nutrient cycling in karstic ecological systems, southwest China: a review. Earth Sci Front 16:1–12Google Scholar
- McGroddy ME, Baisden WT, Hedin LO (2008) Stoichiometry of hydrological C, N, and P losses across climate and geology: an environmental matrix approach across New Zealand primary forests. Glob Biogeochem Cycles 22Google Scholar
- Piao H, Liu C, Zhu S, Zhu J (2005) Variations fo C4 and C3 plant N:P ratios influenced by nutrient stoichiometry in limestone and sandstone areas of Guizhou. Quat Sci 25:552–560Google Scholar
- Selmants PC, Hart SC (2008) Substrate age and tree islands influence carbon and nitrogen dynamics across a retrogressive semiarid chronosequence. Glob Biogeochem Cycles 22Google Scholar
- Sinsabaugh RL, Lauber CL, Weintraub MN, Ahmed B, Allison SD, Crenshaw C, Contosta AR, Cusack D, Frey S, Gallo ME, Gartner TB, Hobbie SE, Holland K, Keeler BL, Powers JS, Stursova M, Takacs-Vesbach C, Waldrop MP, Wallenstein MD, Zak DR, Zeglin LH (2008) Stoichiometry of soil enzyme activity at global scale. Ecol Lett 11:1252–1264PubMedGoogle Scholar
- Sterner RW, Elser JJ (2002) Ecological stoichiometry: the biology of elements from molecules to the biosphere. Princeton University Press, PrincetonGoogle Scholar
- Zhang W, Chen H, Wang K, Zhang J, Hou Y (2007) Effects of planting pattern and bare rock ratio on spatial distribution of soil nutrients in Karst depression area. Chin J Appl Ecol 1459–1463Google Scholar