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Journal of Arid Land  2014, Vol. 6 Issue (2): 174-185    DOI: 10.1007/s40333-013-0222-7
Research Articles     
N and P resorption in a pioneer shrub (Artemisia halodendron) inhabiting severely desertified lands of Northern China
YuLin LI*, Chen JING, Wei MAO, Duo CUI, XinYuan WANG, XueYong ZHAO
Naiman Desertification Research Station, Cold and Arid Regions Environmental and Engineering Research Institute, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Lanzhou 730000, China
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Abstract  Nutrient resorption is an important conservation mechanism for plants to overcome nutrient limitation in the less fertile area of desertified land. In the semi-arid Horqin Sandy Land of Northern China, the shrub Artemisia halodendron usually colonizes into the bare ground of severely desertified land as a pioneer species. It is, therefore, expected that A. halodendron will be less dependent on current nutrient uptake through efficient and proficient resorption of nutrients. In this study, we found that averaged nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) concentrations in senesced leaves significantly varied from 12.3 and 1.2 mg/g in the shifting sand dune to 15.9 and 1.9 mg/g in the fixed sand dune, respectively, suggesting that foliar N and P resorption of A. halodendron were more proficient in the shifting sand dune. In particular, positive relationships between nutrient concentrations in senesced leaves and soil nutrient availability indicate that A. halodendron in infertile habitats is more likely to manage with a low level of nutrients in senesced leaves, giving this species an advantage in infertile soil. Moreover, foliar N- and P-resorption efficiencies and proficiencies showed limited inter-annual variability although annual precipitation varied greatly among 2007–2009. However, N and P resorption of A. halodendron were not more efficient and proficient than those previously reported for other shrubs, indicating that the pioneer shrub in sand dune environments does not rely more heavily than other plants on the process of resorption to conserve nutrients. Incomplete resorption of nutrients in A. halodendron suggests that senesced-leaf fall would return litter with high quality to the soil, and thereby would indirectly improve soil nutrient availability. The restoration of desertified land, therefore, may be accelerated after A. halodendron pioneers into shifting sand dunes.

Received: 22 February 2013      Published: 10 April 2014

This research was financially supported by the National Key Technology R&D Program (Y113911001), the Strategic Priority Research Program of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (XDA05050406), and the National Natural Science Foundation of China (31270501, 30970471).

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YuLin LI, Chen JING, Wei MAO, Duo CUI, XinYuan WANG, XueYong ZHAO. N and P resorption in a pioneer shrub (Artemisia halodendron) inhabiting severely desertified lands of Northern China. Journal of Arid Land, 2014, 6(2): 174-185.

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