Foliar nutrient resorption patterns of four functional plants along a precipitation gradient on the Tibetan Changtang Plateau Zhao, Guangshuai
Foliar nutrient resorption patterns of four functional plants along a precipitation gradient on the Tibetan Changtang Plateau
Nutrient resorption from senesced leaves as a nutrient conservation strategy is important for plants to adapt to nutrient deficiency, particularly in alpine and arid environment. However, the leaf nutrient resorption patterns of different functional plants across environmental gradient remain unclear. In this study, we conducted a transect survey of 12 communities to address foliar nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) resorption strategies of four functional groups along an eastward increasing precipitation gradient in northern Tibetan Changtang Plateau. Soil nutrient availability, leaf nutrient concentration, and N:P ratio in green leaves ([N:P]g) were linearly correlated with precipitation. Nitrogen resorption efficiency decreased, whereas phosphorus resorption efficiency except for sedge increased with increasing precipitation, indicating a greater nutrient conservation in nutrient-poor environment. The surveyed alpine plants except for legume had obviously higher N and P resorption efficiencies than the world mean levels. Legumes had higher N concentrations in green and senesced leaves, but lowest resorption efficiency than nonlegumes. Sedge species had much lower P concentration in senesced leaves but highest P resorption efficiency, suggesting highly competitive P conservation. Leaf nutrient resorption efficiencies of N and P were largely controlled by soil and plant nutrient, and indirectly regulated by precipitation. Nutrient resorption efficiencies were more determined by soil nutrient availability, while resorption proficiencies were more controlled by leaf nutrient and N:P of green leaves. Overall, our results suggest strong internal nutrient cycling through foliar nutrient resorption in the alpine nutrient-poor ecosystems on the Plateau. The patterns of soil nutrient availability and resorption also imply a transit from more N limitation in the west to a more P limitation in the east Changtang. Our findings offer insights into understanding nutrient conservation strategy in the precipitation and its derived soil nutrient availability gradient.
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