Carbon:nitrogen:phosphorus (C:N:P) stoichiometry plays a critical role in nutrient cycling, biodiversity, and ecosystem functionality. However, our understanding of the responses of C:N:P stoichiometry to elevation and forest management remains elusive. Here we sampled 18 Larix principis-rupprechtii sites along altitudinal gradients (1700-2300 m) on Guandishan Mountain in the Loess Plateau, China. We determined the leaf, litter, and soil C N P contents and C:N:P stoichiometric ratios, as well as nutrient resorption efficiency (NuRE), and diameter at breast height (DBH) increments in both planted and natural stands, and then tested the impacts of elevation and stand origin on these parameters’ management. We found different C:N:P stoichiometry between natural and planted forests. The results revealed that: soil C, N, and N:P ratios, litter C:P and N:P ratios, leaf C:N and N:P ratios increased significantly; however, soil C:N ratios, litter P, leaf N and P, nitrogen resorption efficiency (NRE), and DBH increments decreased significantly with elevation in the planted forests. Soil C,N and N:P ratios, litter C, as well as C:N and C:P ratios increased significantly with elevation in natural forests. The soil N, P and N:P ratios, litter C:P and N:P ratios, leaf C, C:P and N:P ratios, nitrogen resorption efficiency (NRE), phosphorus resorption efficiency (PRE), and DBH increments were, on average, higher in the planted, rather than natural forests. Our results indicated that there was an enhancing P-limitation in both the planted and natural forests, and the plantations were more restricted by P. Moreover, compared to natural forests, plantations converged toward a higher conservative N- and P-use strategy by enhancing resorption efficiencies of internal nutrient cycling and a higher annual growth rate.
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