Chin J Plan Ecolo ›› 2008, Vol. 32 ›› Issue (1): 13-22.DOI: 10.3773/j.issn.1005-264x.2008.01.002

• Research Articles • Previous Articles     Next Articles


YAN En-Rong; WANG Xi-Hua; ZHOU Wu   

  1. Department of Environment Science, East China Normal University, Shanghai 200062, China
  • Online:2008-01-30 Published:2008-01-30
  • Contact: YAN En-Rong


Aims It is well documented that nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) are the two main growth-limiting nutrients for plants in many natural environments. Plant N∶P ratio has proved useful as an indicator of shifts from N (P) to P (N) limitation because it is easily determined and compared. However, little is known about the plant N∶P ratio in evergreen broad-leaved forests (EBLF), particularly the pattern along secondary succession. Therefore, our goal was to examine the relationship between the form of nutrient limitation and secondary successional stage by using the N∶P ratio of plant leaves (ratio of N to P concentration) as an indicator.
Methods The research was completed in Tiantong National Forest Park (29 °52′N, 121°39′E, 200 m elevation), Zhejiang
Province, East China. Leaf N and P concentrations of dominant tree species along a secondary succession gradient of EBLF were quantified to provide canopy N∶P ratios for different communities. Leaf N and P concentrations of common plant species in a given community were then determined to emphasize the relationships between differences in the N∶P ratios among species at each successional stage.
Important findings Shifts in the N∶P ratios of species were consistent along the successional series, although the N∶P
ratios of different species in a given community varied considerably. At the community level, the lowest N∶P ratio (7.38 ) was found in grassland, which was usually considered a primary stage of EBLF succession. Thereafter, the N∶P ratio increased to 19.96 in the shrub stage, declined to an average of 14-16 in the mid-stages of succession, including coniferous forest and coniferous-broadleaved mixed forest, and increased at the end stages of succession (e.g. 18.77 in the Schima superba community and 20.13 in the Castanopsis fargesii community). These results suggest that the productivity of vegetation in the Tiantong region is N-limited in the primary stages of succession, N-and P-limited in the mid-succession stages and probably P-limited in the shrub and mature EBLF stages.