Effects of nitrogen addition on the plant diversity and biomass of degraded grasslands of Nei Mongol, China

YANG Qian1,2 WANG Wei2 ZENG Hui1,2

(1.Shenzhen Graduate School, Peking University, Shenzhen, Guangdong, China 518055)
(2.College of Urban and Environment, Peking University, Beijing, China 100871)
【Knowledge Link】Species diversity; Species richness

【Abstract】Aims Anthropogenic disturbances and climate change have resulted in large scale degradation of grasslands across the landscapes in Nei Mongol. Fertilization, especially with nitrogen (N) addition, has been proposed and applied as an important management practice to promote primary production for these degraded grasslands. In this study, we examined the changes in plant diversity and biomass at three levels of degradations with N addition. Methods Nitrogen addition experiment was installed in 2011. Six levels of N addition (0, 10, 20, 30, 40, and 50 g·m−2·a−1) were conducted at grasslands with three levels of degradations. Nitrogen was added at the beginning of each month from May to August each year. We investigated the changes in plant species richness and aboveground biomass by species in August, 2016. The total biomass of the community, as well as the biomass of each plant functional group (grasses and forbs) was calculated based on species composition. Important findings We found that: (1) N addition decreased species richness and diversity at communities under moderate and severe degradations, but insignificant under extreme degradation. (2) N addition increased the aboveground biomass at communities under three levels of degradations. (3) N addition increased the aboveground biomass of the grasses and its proportion to the total biomass, but not on the total biomass of the forbs although it also decreased the proportion of aboveground biomass. These results indicate that the impacts of N addition on ecosystem function depended on plant function type. In addition, the fertilization effects should be examined at community level and by the degree of the degradation.

【Keywords】 nitrogen addition; grassland degradation; species richness; species diversity; aboveground biomass; plant functional group;

【DOI】

【Funds】 Natural Science Foundation of China (31630009) Major Research Projects of the Ministry of Science and Technology (2016YFC0500701)

Download this article

    References

    Asner GP, Elmore AJ, Olander LP, Martin RE, Harris AT (2004). Grazing systems, ecosystem response, and global change. Annual Review of Environment and Resources, 29, 261–299.

    Bai YF, Wu JG, Clark CM, Naeem S, Pan QM, Huang JH, Zhang LX, Han XG (2010). Tradeoffs and thresholds in the effects of nitrogen addition on biodiversity and ecosystem functioning:Evidence from Inner Mongolia grasslands. Global Change Biology, 16, 358–372.

    Bai YF, Wu JG, Xing Q, Pan QM, Huang JH, Yang DL, Han XG (2008). Primary production and rain use efficiency across a precipitation gradient on the Mongolia Plateau. Ecology, 89, 2140–2153.

    Clark CM, Tilman D (2008). Loss of plant species after chronic low-level nitrogen deposition to prairie grasslands. Nature, 451, 712–715.

    Fang Y, Xun F, Bai WM, Zhang WH, Li LH (2012). Long-term nitrogen addition leads to loss of species richness due to litter accumulation and soil acidification in a temperate steppe. PLOS ONE, 7, e4736. DOI:10. 1371/journal. pone. 0047369.

    Harpole WS, Sullivan LL, Lind EM, Firn J, Adler PB, Borer ET, Chase J, Fay PA, Hautier Y, Hillebrand H, MacDougallm AS, Seabloom EW, Williams R, Bakker JD, Cadotte MW, Chaneton EJ, Chu CJ, Cleland EE, D’Antonio C, Davies KF, Gruner DS, Hagenah N, Kirkman K, Knops JMH, La Pierre KJ, Mc Culley RL, Moore JL, Morgan JW, Prober SM, Risch AC, Schuetz M, Stevens CJ, Wragg PD (2016). Addition of multiple limiting resources reduces grassland diversity. Nature, 537, 93–96.

    Hautier Y, Niklaus PA, Hector A (2009). Competition for light causes plant biodiversity loss after eutrophication. Science, 324, 636–638.

    He KJ, Qi Y, Huang YM, Chen HY, Sheng ZL, Xu X, Duan L (2016). Response of aboveground biomass and diversity to nitrogen addition a five-year experiment in semi-arid grassland of Inner Mongolia, China. Scientific Reports, 6, 31919. DOI:10. 1038/srep31919.

    Hooper DU, Johnson L (1999). Nitrogen limitation in dry land ecosystems:Responses to geographical and temporal variation in precipitation. Biogeochemistry, 46, 247–293.

    Isbell F, Reich PB, Tilman D, Hobbie SE, Polasky S, Binder S (2013). Nutrient enrichment, biodiversity loss, and consequent declines in ecosystem productivity. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 110, 11911–11916.

    Kang L, Han XG, Zhang ZB, Sun OJ (2007). Grassland ecosystems in China:Review of current knowledge and research advancement. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London Series B-Biological Sciences, 362, 997–1008.

    Li CL, Li Q, Zhao L, Zhao XQ (2016). Responses of plant community biomass to nitrogen and phosphorus additions in natural and restored grasslands around Qinghai Lake Basin. Chinese Journal of Plant Ecology, 40, 1015–1027 (in Chinese).

    Li LJ, Yu ZY, Zeng DH, Ai GY, Li JS (2010). Effects of fertilizations on species composition and diversity of grassland in Keerqin Sandy Lands. Acta Prataculturae Sinica, 19 (2), 109–115 (in Chinese).

    Liu BR, Wang CH, Zhang LH, Dong KH (2015). Effect of nitrogen addition and mowing on soil nitrogen mineralization in abandoned grasslands in Inner Mongolia. Acta Ecologica Sinica, 35, 6335–6343 (in Chinese).

    Liu HY, Yin Y, Tian YH, Ren J, Wang HY (2008). Climatic and anthropogenic controls of topsoil features in the semi-arid East Asian steppe. Geophysical Research Letters, 35 (4), L04401. DOI:10.1029/2007GL032980.

    LüXT, Dijkstra FA, Kong DL, Wang ZW, Han XG (2014). Plant nitrogen uptake drives responses of productivity to nitrogen and water addition in a grassland. Scientific Reports, 4, 4817. DOI:10.1038/srep04817.

    Mountford JO, Lakhani KH, Kirkham FW (1993). Experimental assessment of the effects of nitrogen addition under hay-cutting and aftermath grazing on the vegetation of meadows on a Somerset peat moor. Journal of Applied Ecology, 30, 321–332.

    Mu SJ, Zhu C, Zhou KX, Li JL (2017). The preventive strategies of degradation and the approaches to enhance carbon sequestration ability in Inner Mongolia Grassland. Acta Agrestia Sinica, 25 (2), 217–225 (in Chinese).

    Niu DC, Yuan XB, Cease AJ, Wen HY, Zhang CP, Fu H, Elser JJ (2017). The impact of nitrogen enrichment on grassland ecosystem stability depends on nitrogen addition level. Science of the Total Environment, 9, 318. DOI:10.1016/j.scitotenv.2017.09.318.

    Quan Q, He NP, Zhang Z, Zhang YH, Gao Y (2015). Nitrogen enrichment and grazing accelerate vegetation restoration in degraded grassland patches. Ecological Engineering, 72, 172–177.

    Rajaniemi TK, Allison VJ, Goldberg DE (2003). Root competition can cause a decline in diversity with increased productivity. Journal of Ecology, 91, 407–416.

    Ren ZW, Li Q, Chu CJ, Zhao LQ, Zhang JQ, Ai DXC, Yang YB, Wang G (2010). Effects of resource additions on species richness and ANPP in an alpine meadow community. Journal of Plant Ecology, 3, 25–31.

    Scurlock JMO, Hall DO (1998). The global carbon sink:A grassland perspective. Global Change Biology, 4, 229–233.

    Shen HH, Zhu YK, Zhao X, Geng XQ, Gao SQ, Fang JY (2016). Grassland area, biomass and productivity in China:A literature survey and model evaluation. Chinese Science Bulletin, 61, 139–154 (in Chinese).

    Song L, Bao X, Liu X, Zhang Y, Christie P, Fangmeier A, Zhang F (2011). Nitrogen enrichment enhances the dominance of grasses. Biogeosciences, 8, 2341–2350.

    Song MH, Yu FH (2015). Reduced compensatory effects explain the nitrogen-mediated reduction in stability of an alpine meadow on the Tibetan Plateau. New Phytologist, 207, 70–77.

    Stevens CJ (2016). How long do ecosystems take to recover from atmospheric nitrogen deposition?Biological Conservation, 200, 160–167.

    Stevens CJ, Dise NB, Mountford JO, Gowing DJ (2004). Impact of nitrogen deposition on the species richness of grasslands. Science, 303, 1876–1879.

    Stevens CJ, Lind EM, Hautier Y, Harpole WS, Borer ET, Hobbie S, Seabloom EW, Ladwig L, Bakker JD, Chu CJ, Collins S, Davies KF, Firn J, Hillebrand H, La Pierre KJ, Mac Dougall A, Melbourne B, McC ulley RL, Morgan J, Orrock JL, Prober SM, Risch AC, Schuetz M, Wragg PD (2015). Anthropogenic nitrogen deposition predicts local grassland primary production worldwide. Ecology, 96, 1459–1465.

    Su YZ, Li YL, Cui JY, Zhao WZ (2005). Influences of continuous grazing and livestock exclusion on soil properties in a degraded sandy grassland, Inner Mongolia, northern China. Catena, 59, 267–278.

    Tian QY, Liu NN, Bai WM, Li LH, Chen JQ, Reich PB, Yu Q, Guo DL, Smith MD, Knapp AK, Cheng WX, Lu P, Gao Y, Yang A, Wang TZ, Li X, Wang ZW, Ma YB, Han XG, Zhang WH (2016). A novel soil manganese mechanism drives plant species loss with increased nitrogen deposition in a temperate steppe. Ecology, 97, 65–74.

    Tian QY, Liu NN, Bai WM, Li LH, Zhang WH (2015). Disruption of metal ion homeostasis in soils is associated with nitrogen deposition-induced species loss in an Inner Mongolia steppe. Biogeosciences, 12, 3499–3512.

    Tilman D, Wedin D, Knops J (1996). Productivity and sustainability influenced by biodiversity in grassland ecosystems. Nature, 379, 718–720.

    van de Koppel J, Rietkerk M, Weissing FJ (1997). Catastrophic vegetation shifts and soil degradation in terrestrial grazing systems. Trends Ecology & Evolution, 12, 352–356.

    Wang J, Wang SS, Qiao XG, Li A, Xue JG, Hasi M, Zhang XY, Huang JH (2016). Influence of nitrogen addition on the primary production in Nei Mongol degraded grassland. Chinese Journal of Plant Ecology, 40, 980–990 (in Chinese).

    Xu X, Niu SL, Sherry RA, Zhou XH, Zhou JH, Luo YQ (2012). Inter-annual variability in responses of belowground net primary productivity (NPP) and NPP partitioning to long-term warming and clipping in a tallgrass prairie. Global Change Biology, 17, 927–942.

    Xu XT (2015). Growth and Restoration of Degraded Grasslands Under Control of Nitrogen and Water in Inner Mongolia, China. PhD dissertation, Peking University, Beijing (in Chinese).

    Xu XT, Liu HY, Song ZL, Wang W, Hu GZ, Qi ZH (2015). Response of aboveground biomass and diversity to nitrogen addition along a degradation gradient in the Inner Mongolian steppe, China. Scientific Reports, 5, 10284. DOI:10. 1038/srep10284.

    Yang HJ, Jiang L, Li LH, Li A, Wu MY, Wan SQ (2012). Diversity-dependent stability under mowing and nutrient addition:Evidence from a 7-year grassland experiment. Ecology Letters, 15, 619–626.

    Yang XX, Ren F, Zhou HK, He JS (2014). Responses of plant community biomass to nitrogen and phosphorus additions in an alpine meadow on the Qinghai-Xizang Plateau. Chinese Journal of Plant Ecology, 38, 159–166 (in Chinese).

    Zhang TH, Zhao HL, Li YL, Cui JY, Han TB, Zhang H (2008). Effect of irrigation and fertilizer on grassland productivity in Horqin Sandy Land. Acta Prataculturae Sinica, 17 (1), 36–42 (in Chinese).

    Zhang YH, Feng JC, Isbell F, LüXT, Han XG (2015). Productivity depends more on the rate than the frequency of Naddition in a temperate grassland. Scientific Reports, 5, 12558. DOI:10.1038/srep12558.

    Zhang YH, LüXT, Isbell F, Stevens C, Han X, He NP, Zhang GM, Yu Q, Huang JH, Han XG (2014). Rapid plant species loss at high rates and at low frequency of N addition in temperate steppe. Global Change Biology, 20, 3520–3529.

This Article

ISSN:1005-264X

CN:11-3397/Q

Vol 42, No. 04, Pages 430-441

April 2018

Downloads:0

Share
Article Outline

Knowledge

Abstract

  • 1 Materials and methods
  • 2 Results and analysis
  • 3 Discussion
  • 4 Conclusions
  • References