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Journal of Arid Land  2012, Vol. 4 Issue (1): 3-10    DOI: 10.3724/SP.J.1227.2012.00003
Research Articles     
Impact of nitrogen addition on plant community in a semi-arid temperate steppe in China
Ling SONG1, XueMei BAO1, XueJun LIU1,2, FuSuo ZHANG1

1 Key Laboratory of Plant-Soil Interactions, Ministry of Education, College of Resources and Environmental Sciences, China Agricultural University, Beijing 100193, China;

2 Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Urumqi 830011, China

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Abstract   Increased nitrogen (N) deposition will often lead to a decline in species richness in grassland ecosystems but the shifts in functional groups and plant traits are still poorly understood in China. A field experiment was conducted at Duolun, Inner Mongolia, China, to investigate the effects of N addition on a temperate steppe ecosystem. Six N levels (0, 3, 6, 12, 24, and 48 g N/(m2×a)) were added as three applications per year from 2005 to 2010. Enhanced N deposition, even as little as 3 g N/(m2×a) above ambient N deposition (1.2 g N/(m2×a)), led to a decline in species richness of the whole community. Increasing N addition can significantly stimulate aboveground biomass of perennial bunchgrasses (PB) but decrease perennial forbs (PF), and induce a slight change in the biomass of shrubs and semi-shrubs (SS). The biomass of annuals (AS) and perennial rhizome grasses (PR) accounts for only a small part of the total biomass. Species richness of PF decreased significantly with increasing N addition rate but there was a little change in the other functional groups. PB, as the dominant functional group, has a relatively higher height than others. Differences in the response of each functional group to N addition have site-specific and species-specific characteristics. We initially infer that N enrichment stimulated the growth of PB, which further suppressed the growth of other functional groups.

Key wordsAQUIGEOHYCLIM      Gash River      basin      climate      geomorphology      hydrology      mitigation      water management     
Received: 05 August 2011      Published: 05 March 2012

The One Hundred Person Project of Chinese Academy of Sciences, the National Natural Science Foundation of China (40771188, 41071151), the Innovative Group Grants from NSFC (30821003) and the Sino-German project (DFG Research Training Group, GK1070).

Corresponding Authors: XueJun LIU     E-mail: E-mail:
Cite this article:

Ling SONG, XueMei BAO, XueJun LIU, FuSuo ZHANG. Impact of nitrogen addition on plant community in a semi-arid temperate steppe in China. Journal of Arid Land, 2012, 4(1): 3-10.

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