Understanding ecological stoichiometric characteristics of soil nutrient elements is crucial to guide ecological restoration and agricultural cultivation in karst rocky desertification region, but the information about the effect of the geological background on ecological stoichiometric ratios remains unknown. Soils from different landforms, including a basin, slope, and plateau, were sampled to investigate the spatial variance of the ecological stoichiometric characteristics of soil carbon (C), nitrogen (N), and phosphorus (P) under different rocky desertification grades (LRD: light rocky desertification; MRD: moderate rocky desertification; and SRD: severe rocky desertification) in a karst graben basin of Southwest China. Soil C:N ratio was not significantly influenced by rocky desertification grade, which was at a relatively stable level in the same landform, but soil C:P and N:P ratios increased with increasing rocky desertification grade. This change was consistent with increased soil organic carbon (SOC) and total nitrogen (TN) concentrations in the same geomorphic location along with the intensification of rocky desertification, but soil P concentration remained at a relatively stable level, indicating that P may be the limiting macronutrient for plant growth during vegetation restoration in a karst graben area. The soil C:N ratio of slope land was larger than that of the basin and plateau, while the soil C:P ratio and N:P ratio of the slope and plateau were significantly larger than that of the basin. The correlations between pH and C, N, and P stoichiometry decreased significantly when Ca was used as a control variable. In sharp contrast, the correlations between Ca and C, N, and P stoichiometry were highly significant no matter whether pH was used as a control variable, suggesting the important role of Ca in soil C, N, and P stoichiometry in karst graben basins.
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