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Researchers Reveal Effect of Long-term N Deposition on Litter Quality of Semi-arid Steppe

Litter quality drives litter decomposition and nutrient cycling. Lignin, cellulose and semi-cellulose, as major structural carbohydrates, affect the process of litter decomposition. The effect of N deposition on nutrient cycling and plant community structure of grassland ecosystem has been deeply investigated, but the effect of N deposition on chemical quality of litters remains less knownatthe levels of plant species and community.

The effects of N deposition on litter quality may be affected by other factors, such as the management manner of ecosystem. Mowing, as a common management strategy for grassland ecosystem, decreases nutrient supply to soil and plant and further affects the community composition and nutrient cycling of the ecosystem through removing aboveground biomass.

The research team of Ecological Stoichiometry research group in IAE investigated the effect of N deposition and mowing on the litter quality( Nitrogen, lignin, cellulose and semi-cellulose content) of fourdominant plant species in successive seven years based on a long-term experimental setup in the Inner Mongolia Grassland Ecosystem Research Station.

The results showed significant difference in the quality of litters across different species. N deposition affected litter quality on the community level. Long-term mowing did not alter the effect of the N deposition. N deposition and Mowing both indirectly affect litter quality by changing the plant community composition. The work enriched our knowledge in the effect of N deposition the biogeochemical cycling and related mechanisms on the background of different ecosystem management regimes.

The results were published on Ecological Engineering entitled as Long-term Mowing Did Not Alter the Impacts of Nitrogen Deposition on Litter Quality in a Temperate Steppe.

The work was supported by Special Pilot Project of CAS and NNSFC.

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