Influences of micro-geomorphology on the stoichiometry of C, N and P in Chenier Island soils and plants in the Yellow River Delta, China

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Abstract

Studies have indicated that consistent or well-constrained (relatively low variability) carbon: nitrogen:phosphorus (C:N:P) ratios exist in large-scale ecosystems, including both marine and terrestrial ecosystems. Little is known about the C, N and P stoichiometric ratios that exist in the soils and plants of Chenier Island in the Yellow River Delta (YRD). We examined the distribution patterns and relationships of C, N and P stoichiometry in the soils and plants of Chenier Island, as well as the potential influences of the island’s micro-geomorphology. Based on a study of four soil profile categories and Phragmites australis and Suaeda heteroptera plant tissues, our results showed that micro-geomorphology could leave a distinct imprint on the soil and plant elemental stoichiometry of Chenier Island; significant variation in the atomic C:N:P ratios (RCNP) existed in soils and plants, indicating that the RCNP values in both the soil and plants are not well constrained at the Chenier Island scale. RCN and RCP in Chenier Island soils were high, whereas the RNP values were comparatively low, indicating that the ecosystems of Chenier Island are nutrient-limited by N and P. However, the RNP values in P. australis and S. heteroptera plant tissues were high, suggesting that the plants of Chenier Island are nutrient-limited by P. Finally, we suggest that soil and plant N:P ratios may be good indicators of the soil and plant nutrient status during soil development and plant growth, which could be a useful reference for restoring the degraded soils of Chenier Island.

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Qu, F., Meng, L., Yu, J., Liu, J., Sun, J., Yang, H., & Dong, L. (2017). Influences of micro-geomorphology on the stoichiometry of C, N and P in Chenier Island soils and plants in the Yellow River Delta, China. PLoS ONE, 12(12). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0189431

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