Chin J Plan Ecolo ›› 2017, Vol. 41 ›› Issue (1): 71-80.doi: 10.17521/cjpe.2016.0093

• Research Articles • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Responses of growth and litterfall production to nitrogen addition treatments from common shrublands in Mt. Dongling, Beijing, China

Jian-Hua ZHANG1,2,*(), Zhi-Yao TANG3, Hai-Hua SHEN2, Jing-Yun FANG2,3   

  1. 1Xinzhou Normal University, Xinzhou, Shanxi 034000, China

    2State Key Laboratory of Vegetation and Environmental Change, Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100093, China
    3College of Urban and Environmental Sciences, and Key Laboratory for Earth Surface Processes of the Ministry of Education, Peking University, Beijing 100871, China
  • Received:2016-03-11 Accepted:2016-09-21 Online:2017-01-23 Published:2017-01-10
  • Contact: Jian-Hua ZHANG
  • About author:

    KANG Jing-yao(1991-), E-mail:


Aims The shrublands of northern China have poor soil and nitrogen (N) deposition has greatly increased the local soil available N for decades. Shrub growth is one of important components of C sequestration in shrublands and litterfall acts as a vital link between plants and soil. Both are key factors in nutrient and energy cycling of terrestrial ecosystems, which greatly affected by nitrogen (N) addition (adding N fertilizer to the surface soil directly). However, the effects and significance of N addition on C sequestration and litterfall in shrublands remain unclear. Thus, a study was designed to investigate how N deposition and related treatments affected shrublands growth related to C sequestration and litterfall production of Vitex negundo var. heterophylla and Spiraea salicifolia in Mt. Dongling region of China.
Methods A N enrichment experiment has been conducted for V. negundo var. heterophylla and S. salicifolia shrublands in Mt. Dongling, Beijing, including four N addition treatment levels (control (N0, 0 kg N·hm-2·a-1), low N (N1, 20 kg N·hm-2·a-1), medium N (N2, 50 kg N·hm-2·a-1) and high N (N3, 100 kg N·hm-2·a-1)). Basal diameter and plant height of shrub were measured from 2012-2013 within all treatments, and allometric models for different species of shrub’s live branch, leaf and root biomass were developed based on independent variables of basal diameter and plant height, which will be used to calculate biomass increment of shrub layer. Litterfall (litterfall sometimes is named litter, referring to the collective name for all organic matter produced by the aboveground part of plants and returned to the surface, and mainly includes leaves, bark, dead twigs, flowers and fruits.) also was investigated from 2012-2013 within all treatments.
Important findings The results showed 1) mean basal diameter of shrubs in the V. negundo var. heterophylla and S. salicifolia shrublands were increased by 1.69%, 2.78%, 2.51%, 1.80% and 1.38%, 1.37%, 1.59%, 2.05% every year; 2) The height growth rate (the shrub height relative growth rate is defined with the percentage increase of plant height) of shrubs in the V. negundo var. heterophylla and S. salicifolia shrublands were 8.36%, 8.48%, 9.49%, 9.83% and 2.12%, 2.86%, 2.36%, 2.52% every year, respectively. Thee results indicated that N deposition stimulated growth of shrub layer both in V. negundo var. heterophylla and S. salicifolia shrublands, but did not reach statistical significance among all nitrogen treatments. The above-ground biomass increment of shrub layer in the V. negundo var. heterophylla and S. salicifolia shrublands were 0.19, 0.23, 0.14, 0.15 and 0.027, 0.025, 0.032, 0.041 t C·hm-2·a-1 respectively, which demonstrated that short-term N addition had no significant effects on the accumulation of C storage of the two shrublands. The litter production of the V. negundo var. heterophylla and S. salicifolia communities in 2013 were 135.7 and 129.6 g·m-2 under natural conditions, respectively. Nitrogen addition promoted annual production of total litterfall and different components of litterfall to a certain extent, but did not reach statistical significance among all nitrogen treatments. Above results indicated that short-term fertilization, together with extremely low soil moisture content and other related factors, lead to inefficient use of soil available nitrogen and slow response of shrublands to N addition treatments.

Key words: nitrogen deposition, carbon cycle, temperate shrublands, growth rate, litterfall, seasonal dynamics

Table 1

Topography, soil and vegetation characteristics of the experimental sites (mean ± SE, n = 3)"

Vitex negundo var. heterophylla shrubland
Spiraea salicifolia shrubland
地形和气候 Topography and climate
海拔 Elevation (m) 791 1 170
坡向 Aspect S S
坡度 Slope (°) 28 25
年平均气温 Mean annual temperature (°C) 12.3 9.2
表层土壤特征 Topsoil property
土壤pH Soil pH 8.7 8.9
总碳含量 Total carbon (mg·g -1) 28.88 ± 2.10 39.50 ± 5.03
总氮含量 Total nitrogen (mg·g -1) 2.72 ± 0.32 2.29 ± 0.36
总磷含量 Total phosphorous (mg·g -1) 0.47 ± 0.04 0.48 ± 0.03
无机氮含量 Inorganic nitrogen (mg·kg -1) 6.01 ± 2.38 2.51 ± 2.88
速效磷含量 Available phosphorous (mg·kg -1) 1.03 ± 0.09 1.38 ± 0.77
群落特征 Community character
灌木高度 Shrub height (cm) 78.10 ± 12.37 79.80 ± 7.43
平均基径 Average base diameter (cm) 0.77 ± 1.77 0.56 ± 0.04
灌木密度 Shrub density (stems·hm-2) 1.6 × 105 3.6 × 105

Table 2

Biomass allometric models for eight common shrub species in Mt. Dongling"

R2 方程 Equation
山杏 根 Root D2H 0.81 y = 1.26x0.77
Armeniaca sibirica 枝 Branch D2H 0.94 y = 1.09x0.79
叶 Leaf D2H 0.87 y = 1.61x0.56
总计 Total D2H 0.95 y = 3.53x0.74
小叶白蜡 根 Root D2H 0.88 y = 0.2x0.91
Fraxinus bungeana 枝 Branch D2H 0.50 y = 5.47x0.51
叶 Leaf D2H 0.77 y = 0.13x0.8
总计 Total D2H 0.72 y = 4.47x0.62
小叶鼠李 根 Root D2H 0.95 y = 0.7x0.85
Rhamnus 枝 Branch D2H 0.96 y = 0.74x0.91
parvifolia 叶 Leaf D2H 0.88 y = 0.89x0.58
总计 Total D2H 0.96 y = 1.95x0.85
河朔荛花 根 Root D2H 0.83 y = 0.81x0.61
Wikstroemia 枝 Branch D2H 0.95 y = 0.92x0.78
chamedaphne 叶 Leaf D2H 0.48 y = 1.32x0.35
总计 Total D2H 0.92 y = 2.31x0.68
绣线菊 根 Root D2H 0.77 y = 0.18x1.14
Spiraea salicifolia 枝 Branch D2H 0.78 y = 0.23x1.18
叶 Leaf D2H 0.62 y = 0.07x1.15
总计 Total D2H 0.79 y = 0.48x1.16
荆条 根 Root D2H 0.84 y = 0.2x1.09
Vitex negundo var. 枝 Branch D2H 0.82 y = 0.54x0.95
heterophylla 叶 Leaf D2H 0.66 y = 0.86x0.59
总计 Total D2H 0.90 y = 1.07x0.95
蚂蚱腿子 根 Root D2H 0.95 y = 0.07x1.16
Myripnois dioica 枝 Branch D2H 0.91 y = 0.42x1.00
叶 Leaf D2H 0.79 y = 0.31x0.71
总计 Total D2H 0.95 y = 0.64x1.00
胡枝子 根 Root D2H 0.41 y = 0.19x1.06
Lespedeza bicolor 枝 Branch D2H 0.87 y = 0.15x1.5
叶 Leaf D2H 0.84 y = 0.29x1.25
总计 Total D2H 0.84 y = 0.61x1.29

Table 3

Shrub diameter (D, cm) and height (H, cm) of shrubland under different nitrogen addition treatments (mean ± SD)"

物种 Species 变量
Control (N0)
Low-N (N1)
Medium-N (N2)
High-N (N3)
荆条灌丛 Vitex negundo
var. heterophylla shrubland
D 0.70 ± 0.10 0.90 ± 0.20 0.70 ± 0.00 0.70 ± 0.10
H 78.30 ± 7.80 84.20 ± 10.10 74.60 ± 3.00 75.40 ± 9.00
Spiraea salicifolia shrubland
D 0.53 ± 0.00 0.57 ± 0.00 0.57 ± 0.00 0.54 ± 0.00
H 76.40 ± 0.60 78.80 ± 4.00 81.40 ± 7.10 82.80 ± 4.70

Fig. 1

Influence of nitrogen addition treatments on the relative growth rates of shrub diameter (D) and height (H) (mean ± SD). The same letters indicates no significant difference (p > 0.05) among treatments. N0, N1, N2 and N3 denote 0, 20, 50 and 100 kg N·hm-2·a-1 nitrogen addition, respectively."

Fig. 2

Influence of nitrogen addition treatments on above ground biomass (AGB) and total biomass (TB) (mean ± SD). The same letter indicates no significant difference (p > 0.05) among treatments. N0, N1, N2, N3 see Fig. 1."

Fig. 3

Influence of nitrogen addition treatments on gross litterfall and different components of litterfall of Vitex negundo var. heterophylla (V.n) and Spiraea salicifolia (S.t) shrublands in 2012 (left) and 2013 (right) (mean ± SD). N0, N1, N2, N3 see Fig. 1."

Fig. 4

Influence of nitrogen addition treatments on seasonal variation of gross litterfall and its component (mean ± SD). Left for Vitex negundo var. heterophylla and right for Spiraea salicifolia shrublands, respectively. N2 and N3 marked with an asterisk have a very significant difference (p < 0.05) compared to the control. N0, N1, N2, N3 see Fig. 1."

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