Grassland degradation can result in decline in ecosystem productivity, which harms ecosystem services and livelihood of herders. The complex interactions among plant, soil and microbes affect the grassland ecosystem function. Thus, it is necessary to reveal how plant, soil and microbes interact and their effects on the ecosystem function.
Recently, a research team from the Northwest Institute of Eco-Environmental and Resources of the Chinese Academy of Sciences investigated the nitrogen (N) uptake and preference for different forms of available soil N for dominant plant species on the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau (QTP).
Their findings were published in Biology and Fertility of Soils.
The researchers conducted a short-term 15N labeling experiment to examine plant and microbial acquisition of different chemical forms of N, the abundance of N cycling-related genes, and net primary productivity along a grassland degradation gradient in an alpine meadow on the QTP.
They also investigated soil microorganisms related to the plant community productivity change at the no-degradation stage, early stage of degradation, and late stage of degradation in an alpine meadow on the QTP.
They found that plant and microbial N uptake and changes in plant and microbial preference as affected by available soil N determined the productivity of alpine meadow at different stages of degradation. The total net primary productivity was unchanged at the early stage of degradation. Both aboveground and belowground net primary productivity significantly decreased at the late stage of degradation compared with the non-degraded meadows.
52 Sanlihe Rd., Xicheng District,
Beijing, China (100864)