Chin J Plant Ecol ›› 2016, Vol. 40 ›› Issue (12): 1257-1266.DOI: 10.17521/cjpe.2016.0218

Special Issue: 生态化学计量

• Research Articles • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Changes of the relationships between soil and microbes in carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus stoichiometry during ecosystem succession

Zheng-Hu ZHOU, Chuan-Kuan WANG*   

  1. Center for Ecological Research, Northeast Forestry University, Harbin 150040, China
  • Online:2016-12-10 Published:2016-12-30
  • Contact: Chuan-Kuan WANG

Abstract: AimsThe carbon (C), nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) stoichiometry (C:N:P) of soil profoundly influences the growth, community structure, biomass C:N:P stoichiometry, and metabolism in microbes. However, the relationships between soil and microbes in the C:N:P stoichiometry and their temporal dynamics during ecosystem succession are poorly understood. The aim of this study was to determine the temporal patterns of soil and microbial C:N:P stoichiometry and their relationships during ecosystem succession.MethodsAn extensive literature search was conducted and data were compiled for 19 age sequences of successional ecosystems, including 13 forest ecosystems and 6 grassland ecosystems, from 18 studies published up to May 2016. Meta-analyses were performed to examine the sequential changes in 18 variables that were associated with soil and microbial C, N and P contents and the stoichiometry. Important findings (1) There was no consistent temporal pattern in soil C:N along the successional stages, whereas the soil C:P and N:P increased with succession; the slopes of the linear relationships between soil C:N:P stoichiometry and successional age were negatively correlated with the initial content of the soil organic C within given chronosequence. (2) There was no consistent temporal pattern in microbial C:N:P stoichiometry along the successional stages. (3) The fraction of microbial biomass C in soil organic C (qMBC), the fraction of microbial biomass N in soil total N, and the fraction of microbial biomass P in soil total P all increased significantly with succession, in consistency with the theory of succession that ecosystem biomass per unit resource increases with succession. (4) The qMBC decreased with increases in the values of soil C:N, C:P, or N:P, as well as the stoichiometric imbalances in C:N, C:P, and N:P between soil and microbes (i.e., ratios of soil C:N, C:P, and N:P to microbial biomass C:N, C:P, and N:P, respectively). The C:N, C:P, and N:P stoichiometric imbalances explained 37%-57% variations in the qMBC, about 7-17 times more than that explainable by the successional age, illustrating the importance of soil-microbial C:N:P stoichiometry in shaping the successional dynamics in qMBC. In summary, our study highlights the importance of the theories of ecosystem succession and stoichiometry in soil microbial studies, and suggests that appropriately applying macro-ecological theories in microbial studies may improve our understanding on microbial ecological processes.

Key words: carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus, ecological stoichiometry, soil microbes, succession