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Journal of Arid Land  2016, Vol. 8 Issue (6): 881-889    DOI: 10.1007/s40333-016-0055-2
Research Articles     
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
WANG Haiming1, SUN Jian2*, LI Weipeng3, WU Jianbo1, CHEN Youjun4, LIU Wenhui5
1 Institute of Mountain Hazards and Environment, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Chengdu 610041, China;
2 Synthesis Research Centre of Chinese Ecosystem Research Network, Key Laboratory of Ecosystem Network Observation and Modelling, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101, China;
3 Land and Resource College, China West Normal University, Nanchong 637002, China;
4 Institute of Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau, Southwest University for Nationalities Sichuan, Chengdu 610041, China;
5 Qinghai Academy of Animal Science and Veterinary Medicine, Xining 810016, China
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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.

Key wordseco-environmental vulnerability      climate factors      spatial patterns      three-river source region     
Received: 03 December 2015      Published: 01 December 2016

This study was funded by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (41501057), the West Light Foundation of Chinese Academy of Sciences, the Open Fund of the Key Laboratory of Mountain Surface Processes and Eco-regulation and the National Basic Research Program of China (2013CBA01808).

Corresponding Authors: SUN Jian     E-mail:
Cite this article:

WANG Haiming, SUN Jian, LI Weipeng, WU Jianbo, CHEN Youjun, LIU Wenhui. 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. Journal of Arid Land, 2016, 8(6): 881-889.

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