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Article

Water Supply Increases N Acquisition and N Resorption from Old Branches in the Leafless Shrub Calligonum caput-medusae at the Taklimakan Desert Margin

by 1,2,3,*, 1,2,3, 1,2,3, 1,2,3 and 4,*
1
Xinjiang Key Laboratory of Desert Plant Roots Ecology and Vegetation Restoration, Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Urumqi 830011, China
2
State Key Laboratory of Desert and Oasis Ecology, Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Urumqi 830011, China
3
Cele National Station of Observation and Research for Desert-Grassland Ecosystems, Cele 848300, China
4
Institute of Nuclear Technology and Biotechnology, Xinjiang Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Urumqi 830091, China
*
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Guido D’Urso
Water 2021, 13(22), 3288; https://doi.org/10.3390/w13223288
Received: 27 September 2021 / Revised: 31 October 2021 / Accepted: 18 November 2021 / Published: 20 November 2021
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Soil Hydrological Processes in Desert Regions)
Irrigation is the main strategy deployed to improve vegetation establishment, but the effects of increasing water availability on N use strategies in desert shrub species have received little attention. Pot experiments with drought-tolerant shrub Calligonum caput-medusae supplied with water at five field capacities in the range of 30–85% were conducted using local soil at the southern margin of the Taklimakan Desert. We examined the changes in plant biomass, soil N status, and plant N traits, and addressed the relationships between them in four- and seven-month-old saplings and mature shrubs after 28 months. Results showed that the growth of C. caput-medusae was highly responsive to increased soil moisture supply, and strongly depleted the soil available inorganic N pools from 16.7 mg kg−1 to an average of 1.9 mg kg−1, although the total soil N pool increased in all treatments. Enhancement of biomass production by increasing water supply was closely linked to increasing total plant N pool, N use efficiency (NUE), N resorption efficiency (NRE), and proficiency (NRP) in four-month saplings, but that to total plant N pool, NRE, and NRP after 28 months. The well-watered plants had lower N concentrations in senesced branches compared to their counterparts experiencing the two lowest water inputs. The mature shrubs had higher NRE and NRP than saplings and the world mean levels, suggesting a higher N conservation. Structural equation models showed that NRE was largely controlled by senesced branch N concentrations, and indirectly affected by water supply, whereas NRP was mainly determined by water supply. Our results indicated that increasing water availability increased the total N uptake and N resorption from old branches to satisfy the N requirement of C. caput-medusae. The findings lay important groundwork for vegetation establishment in desert ecosystems. View Full-Text
Keywords: Calligonum caput-medusae; N resorption; water addition; soil inorganic N; biomass Calligonum caput-medusae; N resorption; water addition; soil inorganic N; biomass
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MDPI and ACS Style

Huang, C.; Zeng, F.; Zhang, B.; Xue, J.; Zhang, S. Water Supply Increases N Acquisition and N Resorption from Old Branches in the Leafless Shrub Calligonum caput-medusae at the Taklimakan Desert Margin. Water 2021, 13, 3288. https://doi.org/10.3390/w13223288

AMA Style

Huang C, Zeng F, Zhang B, Xue J, Zhang S. Water Supply Increases N Acquisition and N Resorption from Old Branches in the Leafless Shrub Calligonum caput-medusae at the Taklimakan Desert Margin. Water. 2021; 13(22):3288. https://doi.org/10.3390/w13223288

Chicago/Turabian Style

Huang, Caibian, Fanjiang Zeng, Bo Zhang, Jie Xue, and Shaomin Zhang. 2021. "Water Supply Increases N Acquisition and N Resorption from Old Branches in the Leafless Shrub Calligonum caput-medusae at the Taklimakan Desert Margin" Water 13, no. 22: 3288. https://doi.org/10.3390/w13223288

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