© 2018 Zhang et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. Water use efficiency (WUE) is an important indicator of ecosystem functioning but how ecosystem WUE responds to climate change including precipitation and nitrogen (N) deposition increases is still unknown. To investigate such responses, an experiment with a randomized block design with water (spring snowfall or summer water addition) and nitrogen addition was conducted in a temperate steppe of northern China. We investigated net ecosystem CO 2 production (NEP), gross ecosystem production (GEP) and evapotranspiration (ET) to calculate ecosystem WUE (WUEnep = NEP/ET or WUEgep = GEP/ET) under spring snow and summer water addition with or without N addition from 2011 to 2013. The results showed that spring snow addition only had significant effect on ecosystem WUE in 2013 and summer water addition showed positive effect on ecosystem WUE in 2011 and 2013, as their effects on NEP and GEP is stronger than ET. N addition increased ecosystem WUE in 2012 and 2013 both in spring snow addition and summer water addition for its increasing effects on NEP and GEP but no effect on ET. Summer water addition had less but N addition had greater increasing effects on ecosystem WUE as natural precipitation increase indicating that natural precipitation regulates ecosystem WUE responses to water and N addition. Moreover, WUE was tightly related with atmospheric vapor-pressure deficit (VPD), photosynthetic active radiation (PAR), precipitation and soil moisture indicating the regulation of climate drivers on ecosystem WUE. In addition, it also was affected by aboveground net primary production (ANPP). The study suggests that ecosystem WUE responses to water and N addition is determined by the change in carbon process rather than that in water process, which are regulated by climate change in the temperate steppe of northern China.
Zhang, X., Zhai, P., Huang, J., Zhao, X., & Dong, K. (2018). Responses of ecosystem water use efficiency to spring snow and summer water addition with or without nitrogen addition in a temperate steppe. PLoS ONE, 13(3). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0194198