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Journal of Arid Land  2023, Vol. 15 Issue (7): 858-870    DOI: 10.1007/s40333-023-0104-6
Research article     
Nutrient resorption and its influencing factors of typical desert plants in different habitats on the northern margin of the Tarim Basin, China
ZHOU Chongpeng1,2, GONG Lu1,2,*(), WU Xue1,2, LUO Yan1,2
1College of Ecology and Environment, Xinjiang University, Urumqi 830017, China
2Key Laboratory of Oasis Ecology, Ministry of Education, Urumqi 830017, China
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The resorption of nutrients from senescent leaves allows plants to conserve and recycle nutrients. To explore the adaptation strategies of desert plants to nutrient-limited environments, we selected four typical desert plants (Populus euphratica Oliv., Tamarix ramosissima Ledeb., Glycyrrhiza inflata Batal., and Alhagi camelorum Fisch.) growing in the desert area of the northern margin of the Tarim Basin, China. The contents of nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), potassium (K), calcium (Ca), magnesium (Mg), and Ferrum (Fe) in the leaves of these four typical desert plants and their resorption characteristics were analyzed. The relationship of nutrient resorption efficiency with leaf functional traits and soil physical-chemical properties in two different habitats (saline-alkali land and sandy land) was discussed. The results showed that the four plants resorbed most of the elements. Ca was enriched in the leaves of P. euphratica, G. inflate, and A. camelorum; Mg was enriched in the leaves of G. inflata; and Fe was enriched in the leaves of the four plants. The results of the redundancy analysis showed that leaf thickness, soil electrical conductivity, and soil P content were the major factors affecting the nutrient resorption efficiency of the four plants. Leaf thickness was negatively correlated with N resorption efficiency (NRE), P resorption efficiency, and Fe resorption efficiency; soil electrical conductivity was positively correlated with the resorption efficiency of most elements; and soil P content was negatively correlated with the resorption efficiency of most elements in the plant leaves. The results showed that soil physical-chemical properties and soil nutrient contents had an important impact on the nutrient resorption of plant leaves. The same species growing in different habitats also differed in their resorption of different elements. The soil environment of plants and the biological characteristics of plant leaves affected the resorption of nutrient elements in different plants. The purpose of this study is to provide small-scale data support for the protection of ecosystems in nutrient-deficient areas by studying leaf functional strategies and nutrient conservation mechanisms of several typical desert plants.

Key wordsnutrient resorption      leaf functional traits      soil physical-chemical properties      resorption efficiency      different habitats      desert plants     
Received: 26 November 2022      Published: 31 July 2023
Corresponding Authors: *GONG Lu (E-mail:
Cite this article:

ZHOU Chongpeng, GONG Lu, WU Xue, LUO Yan. Nutrient resorption and its influencing factors of typical desert plants in different habitats on the northern margin of the Tarim Basin, China. Journal of Arid Land, 2023, 15(7): 858-870.

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Fig. 1 Nutrient content characteristics of mature and senescent leaves of different plants in different habitats. (a and b), leaf nitrogen (N) content (LNC); (c and d), leaf phosphorus (P) content (LPC); (e and f), leaf potassium (K) content (LKC); (g and h), leaf calcium (Ca) content (LCaC); (i and j), leaf magnesium (Mg) content (LMgC); (k and l), leaf ferrum (Fe) content (LFeC). HY, Populus euphratica Oliv.; CL, Tamarix ramosissima Ledeb.; GC, Glycyrrhiza inflata Batal.; LTC, Alhagi camelorum Fisch.. Habitat I and Habitat II denote saline-alkali land and sandy land, respectively. Different lowercase letters represent significant differences among different plants in the same habitat (P<0.05), and different uppercase letters represent significant differences between different habitats for the same plant (P<0.05). Bars mean standard errors.
Fig. 2 Nutrient resorption efficiency of different plant leaves in different habitats. (a), N resorption efficiency (NRE); (b), P resorption efficiency (PRE); (c), K resorption efficiency (KRE); (d), Ca resorption efficiency (CaRE); (e), Mg resorption efficiency (MgRE); (f), Fe resorption efficiency (FeRE). Different lowercase letters represent significant differences among different plants in the same habitat (P<0.05); and different uppercase letters represent significant differences between different habitats for the same plant (P<0.05). Bars mean standard errors.
Fig. 3 Functional traits of plant leaves in different habitats. (a), leaf thickness; (b), leaf dry matter content; (c), specific leaf area; (d), relative chlorophyll content. Different lowercase letters represent significant differences among different plants in the same habitat (P<0.05), and different uppercase letters represent significant difference between different habitats for the same plant (P<0.05). Bars mean standard errors.
Soil physical-
chemical property
Habitat I Habitat II
SWC (%) 4.49±2.61Aa 4.53±2.51Aa 3.03±0.72Aa 2.97±0.34Aa 1.94±0.17Aa 2.18±1.11Aa 1.65±0.81Aa 1.62±1.33Aa
Soil pH 9.78±0.24Aa 8.27±0.03Ab 8.05±0.07Ab 8.11±0.13Ab 8.72±0.30Ba 8.06±0.13Ab 8.04±0.15Ab 8.19±0.05Ab
EC (mS/cm) 3.70±0.36Aa 4.03±0.23Aa 1.70±0.10Ab 1.83±0.75Ab 1.33±0.31Ba 1.90±0.75Ba 1.33±0.50Aa 0.83±0.42Aa
Soil N (mg/g) 0.23±0.02Aa 0.17±0.02Ab 0.10±0.01Ac 0.08±0.01Ac 0.09±0.02Ba 0.08±0.01Bab 0.06±0.01Bc 0.06±0.01Bc
Soil P (mg/g) 0.68±0.00Bc 0.77±0.03Aa 0.71±0.03Ab 0.71±0.04Aab 0.81±0.02Aa 0.82±0.18Aa 0.83±0.08Aa 0.80±0.03Aa
Soil K (mg/g) 17.01±0.48Aa 16.67±0.24Aa 17.03±0.16Aa 17.18±0.09Aa 16.61±0.35Aab 17.20±0.29Aa 16.05±0.67Ab 15.71±0.50Bb
Soil Ca (mg/g) 52.66±3.09Aa 53.77±6.24Aa 52.49±2.32Aa 46.72±3.18Aa 51.34±2.71Aa 52.18±4.03Aa 55.89±4.84Aa 52.65±1.91Aa
Soil Mg (mg/g) 11.44±0.35Aa 11.30±0.63Aa 10.16±0.14Ab 10.07±0.30Ab 10.31±0.44Ba 10.41±0.37Aa 10.32±1.41Aa 10.34±0.17Aa
Soil Fe (mg/g) 24.83±2.18Aa 24.10±1.03Aa 23.56±0.82Aa 24.41±0.30Aa 22.88±0.14Aa 23.18±0.51Aa 25.35±2.29Aa 25.21±1.33Aa
Table 1 Soil physical-chemical properties under plant canopy in different habitats
Fig. 4 Redundancy analysis (RDA; a) and correlation heat map (b) of soil physical-chemical properties, leaf functional traits, and nutrient resorption efficiency. soil N, soil nitrogen content; soil P, soil phosphorus content; soil K, soil potassium content; soil Ca, soil calcium content; soil Mg, soil magnesium content; soil Fe, soil ferrum content. SWC, soil water content; EC, soil electrical conductivity; LT, leaf thickness; LDMC, leaf dry matter content; SLA, specific leaf area; RCC, relative chlorophyll content. **, P<0.01 level; *, P<0.05 level.
Influencing factor Explanation (%) F value P value
Leaf thickness 30.7 9.7 0.010
Soil electrical conductivity 17.5 7.1 0.012
Soil P 10.4 5.7 0.034
Soil K 6.9 3.1 0.102
Soil pH 3.4 2.0 0.186
Soil N 2.8 1.7 0.202
Relative chlorophyll content 1.3 0.8 0.370
Specific leaf area 2.0 1.2 0.270
Leaf dry matter content 1.8 1.1 0.314
Soil Mg 0.8 0.5 0.466
Soil Ca 2.3 1.4 0.256
Soil Fe 0.6 0.4 0.594
Soil water content 0.1 <0.1 0.850
Table 2 Results of the Monte Carlo test for soil physical-chemical properties and leaf functional traits
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