Differential Responses of Plant Primary Productivity to Nutrient Addition in Natural and Restored Alpine Grasslands in the Qinghai Lake Basin

Front Plant Sci. 2021 Dec 20;12:792123. doi: 10.3389/fpls.2021.792123. eCollection 2021.

ABSTRACT

Climate, land-use changes, and nitrogen (N) deposition strongly impact plant primary productivity, particularly in alpine grassland ecosystems. In this study, the differential responses of plant community primary productivity to N and phosphorus (P) nutrient application were investigated in the natural (NG) and “Grain for Green” restored (RG) alpine grasslands by a continuous 3-year experiment in the Qinghai Lake Basin. N addition only significantly promoted plant aboveground biomass (AGB) by 42% and had no significant effect on belowground biomass (BGB) and total biomass (TB) in NG. In comparison with NG, N addition elevated AGB and BGB concurrently in RG by 138% and 24%, respectively, which further significantly increased TB by 41% in RG. Meanwhile, N addition significantly decreased BGB and the AGB ratio (R/S) both in NG and RG. Compared with N addition, P addition did not perform an evident effect on plant biomass parameters. Additionally, AGB was merely negatively influenced by growing season temperatures (GST) under the N addition treatment in NG. AGB was negatively associated with GST but positively related to growing season precipitation (GSP) in RG. By contrast, changes in the R/S ratio in RG were positively correlated with GST and negatively related to GSP. In sum, the results revealed that plant community biomass exhibited convergent (AGB and R/S) and divergent (BGB and TB) responses to N addition between NG and RG. In addition, the outcomes suggested that climate warming would enhance plant biomass allocation to belowground under ongoing N deposition, and indicated the significance of precipitation for plant growth and AGB accumulation in this restored alpine grassland ecosystem.

PMID:34987537 | PMC:PMC8721223 | DOI:10.3389/fpls.2021.792123

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