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Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2018, 15(1), 109; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph15010109

Community Characteristics and Leaf Stoichiometric Traits of Desert Ecosystems Regulated by Precipitation and Soil in an Arid Area of China

1
Key Laboratory of Plant Resources, West China Subalpine Botanical Garden, Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Xiangshan, Beijing 100093, China
2
College of Resources and Environment, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 25 October 2017 / Revised: 7 January 2018 / Accepted: 8 January 2018 / Published: 10 January 2018
(This article belongs to the Section Environmental Science and Engineering)
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Abstract

Precipitation is a key environmental factor determining plant community structure and function. Knowledge of how community characteristics and leaf stoichiometric traits respond to variation in precipitation is crucial for assessing the effects of global changes on terrestrial ecosystems. In this study, we measured community characteristics, leaf stoichiometric traits, and soil properties along a precipitation gradient (35–209 mm) in a desert ecosystem of Northwest China to explore the drivers of these factors. With increasing precipitation, species richness, aboveground biomass, community coverage, foliage projective cover (FPC), and leaf area index (LAI) all significantly increased, while community height decreased. The hyperarid desert plants were characterized by lower leaf carbon (C) and nitrogen/phosphorus (N/P) levels, and stable N and P, and these parameters did not change significantly with precipitation. The growth of desert plants was limited more by N than P. Soil properties, rather than precipitation, were the main drivers of desert plant leaf stoichiometric traits, whereas precipitation made the biggest contribution to vegetation structure and function. These results test the importance of precipitation in regulating plant community structure and composition together with soil properties, and provide further insights into the adaptive strategy of communities at regional scale in response to global climate change. View Full-Text
Keywords: precipitation; community characteristics; leaf stoichiometric traits; soil properties; desert ecosystem; global climate change precipitation; community characteristics; leaf stoichiometric traits; soil properties; desert ecosystem; global climate change
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).
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Zhang, X.; Guan, T.; Zhou, J.; Cai, W.; Gao, N.; Du, H.; Jiang, L.; Lai, L.; Zheng, Y. Community Characteristics and Leaf Stoichiometric Traits of Desert Ecosystems Regulated by Precipitation and Soil in an Arid Area of China. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2018, 15, 109.

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