Different nitrogen saturation thresholds for above-, below-, and total net primary productivity in a temperate steppe

Release Time:2023-07-03 Big Small


Identifying the thresholds for the positive responses of total net primary productivity (NPP) to nitrogen (N) enrichment is an essential prerequisite for predicting the benefits of N deposition on ecosystem carbon sequestration. However, the responses of below-ground NPP (BNPP) to N enrichment are unknown in many ecosystems, which limits our ability to understand the carbon cycling under the scenario of increasing N availability. We examined the changes in above-ground NPP (ANPP), BNPP, and NPP of a temperate meadow steppe across a wide-ranging N addition gradient (0, 2, 5, 10, 20, and 50?g?N?m?2?year?1) during 5?years. Both ANPP and NPP increased nonlinearly with N addition rates. The N saturation threshold for ANPP (TA) and NPP (TN) was at the rate of 13.11 and 6.70?g?N?m?2?year?1, respectively. BNPP decreased with increasing N addition when N addition rates ?5?g?N?m?2?year?1, resulting in much lower TN than TA. Soil N enrichment played a key role in driving the negative impacts of high N addition rates on BNPP, and consequently on the earlier occurrence of N saturation threshold for NPP. Our results highlight the negative effects of soil N enrichment on NPP in natural grasslands super-saturated with N. Furthermore, by considering ANPP and BNPP simultaneously, our results indicate that previous findings from above-ground might have over-estimated the positive effects of N deposition on primary productivity.