Study shows how nitrogen deposition affects community litter nutrient status
Litter nutrient status plays an important role in driving litter decomposition and ecosystem nutrient cycling. Nitrogen (N) deposition could alter community-level litter nutrient status through both intra- and inter-specific pathways, but their relative importance remains unknown.
Scientists from Institute of Applied Ecology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences examined the responses of species- and community-level litter nutrient concentrations and N:P ratio after seven-year N addition in a semi-arid grassland of northern China.
They found that community composition strengthened the positive impacts of N addition on litter phosphorus (P) concentration and N:P ratio. There were positive co-variations between intra- and inter-specific variation, indicating the consistency of community composition and intra-specific variation in their effects on litter P and N:P ratio.
Results from this study indicate that the imbalance of N and P following N enrichment would be much larger than the expectation based on the findings from species-level, and highlight that changes in community composition would be an unnegligible pathway in plant-mediated biogeochemical cycling.
This study, titled "Changes of community composition strengthen the positive effects of nitrogen deposition on litter N:P stoichiometry in a semi-arid grassland," has been published in Plant and Soil.