Chin J Plant Ecol ›› 2013, Vol. 37 ›› Issue (4): 317-325.DOI: 10.3724/SP.J.1258.2013.00031

• Research Articles • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Seasonal variations of leaf C:N:P stoichiometry of six shrubs in desert of China’s Alxa Plateau

NIU De-Cao1, LI Qian1, JIANG Shi-Gao1, CHANG Pei-Jing2, FU Hua1,*()   

  1. 1State Key Laboratory of Grassland Agro-ecosystems, College of Pastoral Agriculture Science and Technology, Lanzhou University, Lanzhou 730020, China
    2Alxa League Meteorological Bureau of Inner Mongolia, Bayan Hot, Inner Mongolia 750306, China
  • Received:2012-09-04 Accepted:2013-03-05 Online:2013-04-01 Published:2013-04-09
  • Contact: FU Hua


Aims Our objective was to explore seasonal variations of leaf C:N:P stoichiometry in plants with the same growth form.
Methods We chose six shrubs in the desert of the Alxa Plateau in north-central China (Zygophyllum xanthoxylum, Nitraria tangutorum, Reaumuria soongorica, Ceratoides lateens, Oxytropis aciphylla and Ammopiptanthus mongolicus) and observed their phenological stages from May to October 2010. Leaf samples were collected during this period, and leaf C, N and P contents and C:N:P stoichiometry were monitored.
Important findings Seasonal dynamics of leaf C, N and P contents and C:N, C:P and N:P mass ratio in the six shrubs were species-specifics, and the variation of leaf C, N and P and C:N, C:P and N:P mass ratios in different species were also dramatically different. Based on variation analysis among different seasons within species, there were less seasonal dynamics in C and N contents and C:N mass ratio than the other three parameters including P contents and C:P and N:P mass ratios. The range of values of coefficient of variation (CV) for C and N contents and N:P mass ratio was 0.60%-10.20%, 6.09%-20.50% and 5.87%-18.78%, respectively. For the other three parameters, the range of CV values for P content was 16.43%-43.43%, and C:P and N:P mass ratios were 8.48%-31.95% and 11.86%-40.73%, respectively. With the comprehensive analysis based on the total variation (resulting from two factors: season and species) for each parameter in these six shrubs, the rank of CV for each parameter was P (28.85%) > C:P (25.02%) > N:P (22.18%) > N (14.22%) > C:N (12.48%) > C (4.62%). Factorial analysis of variation for each parameter, with sampling date (season) and species as independent variables, showed that leaf C and N contents and leaf C:N, C:P and N:P mass ratios were mainly determined by plant species. For leaf P contents, it was the sampling date (season).

Key words: desert, ecological stoichiometry, life form, shrub