Chin J Plan Ecolo ›› 2015, Vol. 39 ›› Issue (7): 682-693.doi: 10.17521/cjpe.2015.0065

• Orginal Article • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Stoichiometric characteristics of plants, litter and soils in karst plant communities of Northwest Guangxi

ZENG Zhao-Xia1,2,*(), WANG Ke-Lin1,2, LIU Xiao-Li3, ZENG Fu-Ping1,2, SONG Tong-Qing1,2, PENG Wan-Xia1,2, ZHANG Hao1,2, DU Hu1,2   

  1. 1Key Laboratory of Agro-ecological Processes in Subtropical Region, Institute of Subtropical Agriculture, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Changsha 410125, China
    2Huanjiang Observation and Research Station of Karst Ecosystem, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Huanjiang, Guangxi 547100, China
    3College of Resources & Environment, Hunan Agricultural University, Changsha 410128, China
  • Online:2015-07-22 Published:2015-07-01
  • Contact: Zhao-Xia ZENG
  • About author:

    # Co-first authors

Abstract: Aims The objectives of this study were to characterize the C:N:P stoichiometry of the “plant-litter-soil” continuum and to better understand nutrient cycling and stability mechanisms in karst forest ecosystems in Southwest China. Methods Three representative forest sites were selected for each of the primary and secondary communities (28 years of natural restoration) in Northwest Guangxi, and measurements were made on carbon (C), nitrogen (N), and phosphorus (P) contents in plants, litter and soils. Important findings Compared with other regions, the plants in karst forest ecosystems had relatively lower C content and higher N content, with a lower C:N ratio in consistency with the characteristics of plants. After 28 years of natural recovery, N and P absorption in secondary forests were at a relatively stable state compared with the primary forest communities. The values of N:P ratio varied from a range of 16-19 in the primary forest communities to 17-19 in the secondary forest communities, without apparent difference in the mean vale between the two contrasting community types. Soil organic C, N and P in karst forests occurred primarily in the top 0-10 cm soil layer, at 92.0 mg·g-1 C, 6.35 mg·g-1 N, and 1.5 mg·g-1 P, respectively. In contrast, the nutrient utilization efficiency and nutrient resorption rate were lower in karst forest plants than in other plant types, with karst forest plants exhibiting a relatively rapid nutrient turnover rate. The N resorption rate was lower, and the P resorption higher, in the primary forest communities than in the secondary forest communities, indicating that the higher N deficiency and lower P deficiency of the primary forest communities compared with the secondary forest communities. Determination of the C:N:P stoichiometric characteristics in the plant-litter-soil continuum in this study provides a scientific guidance for restoration of the vulnerable karst ecosystem in Southwest China.

Key words: ecological stoichiometry, karst, plant, litter, soil, primary forest, secondary forest

Table 1

The basic characteristics of the forest communities"

Constructive species
原生林 Primary forest 次生林 Secondary forest
Platycarya longipes
裸岩率 Bare rock (%) 48 55 70 15 35 12
建群种高 (m) (平均值±标准误差)
Height of constructive species (m) (mean ± SE)
4.92 ± 0.56 7.67 ± 0.63 8.88 ± 0.71 4.74 ± 0.45 3.56 ± 0.38 1.86 ± 0.23
郁闭度 Canopy closure 0.55 0.61 0.48 0.67 0.82 0.74
物种数 Species number 13 17 9 38 33 42
香农-威尔指数 Shannon-Winner index 3.22 3.14 3.48 1.67 1.91 1.54
均匀度 Evenness 0.83 0.77 0.89 0.58 0.62 0.55
辛普森指数 Simpson’s index 0.81 0.78 0.95 0.55 0.64 0.52

Table 2

C, N and P contents in plants, litter and soil in six forest communities (mg·g-1) (mean ± SE)"

Primary forest
Secondary forest
碳 C (mg·g-1) 植物 Plant 429.3 ± 9.7aA 438.8 ± 10.3aA 432.3 ± 9.3aA 422.3 ± 11.3abA 416.6 ± 12.0bA 425.9 ± 12.4abA
凋落物 Litter 395.1 ± 8.9B 412.9 ± 9.0A 399.4 ± 10.5B 392.8 ± 10.6B 385.2 ± 11.1B 391.5 ± 12.5B
土壤 Soil 106.4 ± 6.2abC 112.4 ± 7.1aB 100.0 ± 6.6bC 83.5 ± 7.4cC 76.9 ± 6.0cdC 72.9 ± 5.2dC
氮 N (mg·g-1) 植物 Plant 22.6 ± 4.4aA 23.0 ± 4.1aA 22.1 ± 3.7aA 18.7 ±3.1cA 19.9 ± 2.7bcA 20.7 ± 2.7bA
凋落物 Litter 13.1 ± 2.3B 12.5 ± 1.8B 13.2 ± 2.1B 12.7 ± 2.0B 12.1 ± 3.1B 12.8 ± 2.4B
土壤 Soil 6.4 ± 1.2abC 5.7 ± 0.8bC 5.9 ± 1.1abC 7.2 ± 1.2aC 6.8 ± 1.0abC 6.1 ± 1.4abC
磷 P (mg·g-1) 植物 Plant 1.3 ± 0.4A 1.4 ± 0.4B 1.2 ± 0.4B 1.1 ± 0.3 1.1 ± 0.4A 1.2 ± 0.5
凋落物 Litter 1.0 ± 0.1B 1.1 ± 0.3C 1.0 ± 0.3C 0.8 ± 0.2 0.7 ± 0.4B 0.8 ± 0.4
土壤 Soil 1.4 ± 0.5abA 1.7 ± 0.6aA 1.6 ± 0.6abA 1.2 ± 0.4b 1.5 ± 0.5abA 1.3 ± 0.4b

Fig. 1

The N and P resorption rates of plants in different forest communities. Different capital letters indicate significant differences in N resorption rate between community types (mean ± SE). Different lowercase letters indicate significant differences in P resorption rate between community types. * shows significant difference between the N and P resorption rates (p < 0.05). AH, Alangium chinense; EH, Eurycorymbus cavaleriei; PM, Pteroceltis tatarinowii; PW, Platycarya longipes; SH, Sapium rotundifolium; VL, Vitex negundo."

Fig. 2

The values of C:N, C:P, N:P in plants, litter and soil in different forest communities (mean ± SE). Different letters indicate significant differences between community types (p < 0.05). AH, Alangium chinense; EH, Eurycorymbus caval- eriei; PM, Pteroceltis tatarinowii; PW, Platycarya longipes; SH, Sapium rotundifolium; VL, Vitex negundo."

Fig. 3

The correlations between N and P concentrations in plant-litter-soil."

Fig. 4

The correlations between log-transformed N:P and C:N, C:P in plants, litter and soil."

Table 3

The contents of C, N, P in plants, litter and soil in Guangxi karst forest communities in comparison with forests of other regions"

对象 Item 研究区域 Region C (mg·g-1) N (mg·g-1) P (mg·g-1) C:N C:P N:P 文献 References
广西喀斯特地区 Karst region, Guangxi 427.5 21.2 1.2 19.8 356 18 This study
北京及其周边 Beijing and it’s periphery 451.0 26.1 2.0 17.4 226 13 Han et al., 2009
吉林长白山 Changbaishan, Jilin 481.5 19.5 1.5 24.7 321 13 王晶苑等, 2011
Wang et al., 2011
广东鼎湖山 Dinghushan, Guangdong 504.9 19.8 0.9 25.5 561 22 王晶苑等, 2011
Wang et al., 2011
中国 China - 18.6 1.2 - - 16 Han et al., 2005
广西喀斯特地区 Karst region, Guangxi 396.2 12.7 0.9 31.4 440 14 This study
北京东灵山 Donglingshan, Beijing 447.3 8.0 0.4 55.9 1 118 20 Wang & Huang, 2001
吉林长白山 Changbaishan, Jilin 496.8 12.9 0.9 39.4 552 14 王晶苑等, 2011
Wang et al., 2011
广东鼎湖山 Dinghushan, Guangdong 522.1 14.2 0.4 37.3 1 305 35 王晶苑等, 2011
Wang et al., 2011
全球 Global - 10.9 0.9 - - 12 Kang et al., 2010
广西喀斯特地区 Karst region, Guangxi (0-10 cm) 92.0 6.4 1.5 15.3 61 4 This study
广西喀斯特地区 Karst region, Guangxi (0-20 cm) 48.4 5.4 0.5 8.8 97 11 Yu et al., 2014
内蒙古草原 Steppe in Inner Mongolia (0-10 cm) 25.3 1.7 0.1 14.9 253 17 Yin et al., 2010
Wetlands in Minjiang river estuary (0-15 cm)
18.8 2.1 0.8 8.9 24 3 王维奇等, 2011
Wang et al., 2011
甘肃民勤绿洲 Minqin oasis, Gansu (0-20 cm) 3.0 0.3 0.3 10.0 10 1 Yang et al., 2011
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