Plant organic N uptake maintains species dominance under long-term warming

Lili Jiang, Shiping Wang, Pang Zhe, Xingliang Xu, Paul Kardol, Yaoming Li, Lirong Zhang, Yanfen Wang, Zhong Lei, Zhichun Lan, Paul W. Hill, Zhenhua Zhang, Caiyun Luo, Yichao Rui, Dong Ning, Davey L. Jones

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Background and aims: There is ample experimental evidence for shifts in plant community composition under climate warming. To date, however, the underlying mechanisms driving these compositional shifts remain poorly understood. Methods: The amount and form of nitrogen (N) available to plants are among the primary factors limiting productivity and plant coexistence in terrestrial ecosystems. We conducted a short-term 15N tracer experiment in a ten-year warming and grazing experiment in an alpine grassland to investigate the effects of warming and grazing on plant uptake of NO3 -N, NH4 +-N, and glycine-N. Four dominant plant species (Kobresia humilis, Potentilla anseria, Elymus nutans, Poa annua) were selected. Results We found that 10-years of warming decreased plant uptake of inorganic N by up to 80% in all species. In contrast, warming increased the uptake of organic N in K. humilis, P. anseria, and E. nutans but not in P. annua. Results showed that plant relative biomass increased hyperbolically with the ratio of the plant species total uptake of available N and plant community uptake of available N. And a significant positive correlation between plant species uptake of soil glycine-N and the uptake of total available N. Conclusions: The stable relative biomass of plant species is largely dependent on organic N uptake by plants. We conclude that plant organic N uptake maintains species dominance under long-term warming.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)243-255
Number of pages13
JournalPlant and Soil
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2018


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