Chin J Plan Ecolo ›› 2015, Vol. 39 ›› Issue (11): 1044-1052.doi: 10.17521/cjpe.2015.0101


• Orginal Article • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Foliar stable carbon isotope ratios of Phragmites australis and the relevant environmental factors in marsh wetlands in Tianjin

CHEN Qing, WANG Yi-Dong, GUO Chang-Cheng, WANG Zhong-Liang*()   

  1. Tianjin Key Laboratory of Water Resources and Environment, Tianjin Normal University, Tianjin 300387, China
  • Received:2015-05-27 Accepted:2015-10-04 Online:2015-12-02 Published:2015-11-01
  • Contact: Zhong-Liang WANG
  • About author:

    # Co-first authors


Aims Phragmites australis marshes in Tianjin play an important role in ecosystem functioning. Wetlands of Tianjin municipality have been suffering from serious nitrogen loading, salinization and water shortage. The foliar stable carbon isotope ratio (δ13C) is a good parameter which records environmental change information associated with the plant growth process, and reflects physiological and ecological responses of plants to environment changes. The objective of this study is to investigate the effects of environment stress on the leaf δ13C of P. australis in marsh wetlands in Tianjin municipality.Methods This study was conducted in Qilihai, Beidagang, and Dahuangpu marsh wetlands. We investigated the foliar δ13C of P. australis and sediment properties, and evaluated the relationships between the foliar δ13C and sediment environmental factors. Important findings 1) Foliar δ13C ranged from -26.3‰ to -23.6‰, with an average value of -25.8‰. 2) Sediment water and nitrogen status were the important factors affecting reed foliar δ13C. Foliar δ13C was negatively correlated to sediment relative water content, and positively correlated to sediment total nitrogen and available nitrogen content. In contrast, foliar δ13C was not significantly correlated to sediment salinity and phosphorus content. 3) Leaf δ13C were significantly positively correlated with leaf nitrogen content, and negatively correlated with leaf carbon and nitrogen ratio across all site. However, these relationships were not detected due to the wetland drainage at Qilihai site in August. Wetland drainage changed the plant water and nitrogen balance, and further affected water and nitrogen utilization strategies of P. australis. Moreover, wetland drainage had stronger effects on these processes than nitrogen loading and salinization.

Key words: stable carbon isotope ratio, nitrogen, salinity, wetland drainage, Phragmites australis

Fig. 1

Distribution of wetland natural reserves in Tianjin."

Table 1

Sediment basic properties in 0-25 cm soil layers in three marsh wetlands in Tianjin in August (mean ± SE)"

pH值 pH value 8.79 ± 0.06a 8.91 ± 0.03a 8.55 ± 0.04b
盐度 Salinity (g·kg-1) 6.36 ± 0.38a 4.24 ± 0.06b 2.76 ± 0.17c
电导率 Electrical
conductivity (ms·cm-1)
2.38 ± 0.14a 1.59 ± 0.02b 1.02 ± 0.07c
Relative soil moisture (%)
69.90 ± 2.25b 100.00 ± 0.00a 100.00 ± 0.00a

Table 2

Leaf stable carbon isotope ratios (δ13C), leaf C, N content and C and N ratio of Phragmites australis in three marsh wetlands in Tianjin (mean ± SE)"

时间 Time 样地 Site δ13C (‰) 碳氮比 C and N ratio 氮含量 N content (%) 碳含量 C content (%)
5月 七里海 Qilihai -25.26 ± 0.12b 11.71 ± 0.16b 3.99 ± 0.05a 46.73 ± 0.22a
May 北大港 Beidagang -26.03 ± 0.13c 13.44 ± 0.40a 3.41 ± 0.12b 45.61 ± 0.26b
大黄堡 Dahuangpu -24.15 ± 0.22a 11.64 ± 0.37b 4.05 ± 0.13a 46.94 ± 0.08a
8月 七里海 Qilihai -25.43 ± 0.12a 23.90 ± 1.06a 2.00 ± 0.09b 47.42 ± 0.34a
August 北大港 Beidagang -26.17 ± 0.07c 22.54 ± 0.36a 2.06 ± 0.04b 46.43 ± 0.12b
大黄堡 Dahuangpu -25.79 ± 0.12b 18.17 ± 0.41b 2.59 ± 0.06a 47.01 ± 0.18ab

Fig. 2

Relationships between foliar stable carbon isotope ratios (δ13C) of Phragmites australis and sediment relative water content (A), salinity (B), available N (C) and total N (D) in marsh wetlands in Tianjin in August. BDG, Beidagang marsh wetlands; DHP, Dahuangpu marsh wetlands; QLH, Qilihai marsh wetlands. Correlation results were presented in Table 3 (n = 15)."

Table 3

Simple and partial correlation analyses of foliar stable carbon isotope ratios (δ13C) of Phragmites australis and sediment characters in marsh wetlands in Tianjin in August"

Relative soil moisture
Available N
Total N
Available P
Total P
简单相关分析 r -0.719** 0.501 0.798*** 0.745*** 0.655** 0.643**
Simple correlation Sig. 0.003 0.057 0.000 0.001 0.008 0.010
偏相关分析 r -0.599* -0.507 0.646* 0.626* 0.264 0.118
Partial correlation Sig. 0.030 0.077 0.017 0.022 0.383 0.700

Fig. 3

Relationships between leaf stable carbon isotope ratios (δ13C) and leaf N content, leaf C and N ratio of Phragmites australis in marsh wetlands in Tianjin. BDG, Beidagang marsh wetlands; DHP, Dahuangpu marsh wetlands; QLH, Qilihai marsh wetlands. The solid symbols indicated data points from May, and the hollow ones indicated data points from August. A, the relationship between leaf δ13C and N content, May: R2 = 0.379, p = 0.009; August: after removing the data points at QLH, then R2 = 0.628, p = 0.002. B, the relationship between leaf δ13C and C and N ratio, May: R2 = 0.329, p = 0.015; August: after removing the data points at QLH, then R2 = 0.611, p = 0.003."

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