Chin J Plan Ecolo ›› 2014, Vol. 38 ›› Issue (2): 167-177.DOI: 10.3724/SP.J.1258.2014.00015

• Research Articles • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Effects of nutrient and water additions on plant community structure and species diversity in desert grasslands

ZHAO Xin-Feng1, XU Hai-Liang1,2*, ZHANG Peng1, TU Wen-Xia3, and ZHANG Qing-Qing4   

  1. 1Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Ürümqi 830011, China;

    2Water Balancing Test Station of Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Aral, Xinjiang 843300, China;

    3School of Geographical Science and Tourism, Xinjiang Normal University, Ürümqi 830054, China;

    4College of Grassland and Environment Sciences, Xinjiang Agricultural University, Ürümqi 830052, China
  • Received:2013-01-21 Revised:2013-10-08 Online:2014-02-01 Published:2014-02-12
  • Contact: XU Hai-Liang

Abstract:

Aims Better understanding the response of community structure and species diversity to nutrient and water enrichment is critical for desert grassland in arid areas. Nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium are the three elements necessary for plant production, and water promotes plant absorption of nutrients. Our objective was to analyze the effects of nutrient and water addition on community structure and species diversity in typical desert grassland in northwestern China.
Methods Field experiments were conducted in Gubantunggut Desert grassland from 2009 to 2012. Nutrient and water additions were done on May 15, 2009–2011, and vegetation investigation was conducted on May 25, 2009–2012. The responses of community structure and species diversity of plants to nutrient, rainfall and snow additions were studied.
Important findings After the nutrient and water additions, the number of species decreased by 35.3%, the number of species in Poaceae family increased and species in Cruciferae family decreased. In 2009 and 2010, none of the three treatments (nutrient addition, water addition and the coupling effect of nutrient and water) significantly influenced species richness, Simpson index, Shannon-Wiener index or Pielou evenness index. In 2012, nutrient addition had a significant effect on species richness (p < 0.05), while treatments of water addition and the coupling effect of nutrient and water did not. The coupling effect of nutrient and water had significant influence on the Simpson and Shannon-Wiener indexes, while treatments of nutrient addition and water addition did not. The Simpson, Shannon-Wiener, Pielou evenness indexes increased from 2009 to 2012.