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Journal of Arid Land

Article Title

Effects of soil nutrients and climate factors on belowground biomass in an alpine meadow in the source region of the Yangtze-Yellow rivers, Tibetan Plateau of China

Abstract

Improving our knowledge of the effects of environmental factors (e.g. soil conditions, precipitation and temperature) on belowground biomass in an alpine grassland is essential for understanding the consequences of carbon storage in this biome. The object of this study is to investigate the relative importance of soil nutrients and climate factors on belowground biomass in an alpine meadow in the source region of the Yangtze and Yellow rivers, Tibetan Plateau. Soil organic carbon (SOC), total nitrogen (TN) and total phosphorous (TP) contents and belowground biomass were measured at 22 sampling sites across an alpine meadow on the Tibetan Plateau. We analyzed the data by using the redundancy analysis to determine the main environmental factors affecting the belowground biomass and the contribution of each factor. The results showed that SOC, TN and TP were the main factors that influenced belowground biomass, and the contribution of SOC, TN and TP on biomass was in the range of 47.87%–72.06% at soil depths of 0–30 cm. Moreover, the combined contribution of annual mean temperature (AMT) and mean annual precipitation (MAP) on belowground biomass ranged from 0.92% to 4.10%. A potential mechanism for the differences in belowground biomass was caused by the variations in soil nitrogen and phosphorous, which were coupled with SOC. A significant correlation was observed between MAP and soil nutrients (SOC, TN and TP) at the soil depth of 0–10 cm (P<0.05). We concluded that precipitation is an important driving force in regulating ecosystem functioning as reflected in variations of soil nutrients (SOC, TN and TP) and dynamics of belowground biomass in alpine grassland ecosystems.

Keywords

belowground biomass; soil organic carbon; soil nitrogen and phosphorus; climate factor; alpine meadow; Tibetan Plateau

First Page

881

Last Page

889

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