Impacts of Global Change and Soil Properties on Phosphorus Transformation and Plant Responses in Alpine Grassland Ecosystem on the Northeastern Tibetan Plateau

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Dokumentart: PhDThesis
Date: 2024-01-29
Language: English
Faculty: 7 Mathematisch-Naturwissenschaftliche Fakultät
Department: Geographie, Geoökologie, Geowissenschaft
Advisor: Scholten, Thomas (Prof. Dr.)
Day of Oral Examination: 2023-12-19
DDC Classifikation: 500 - Natural sciences and mathematics
Other Keywords:
Alpine grassland
Global change
Soil phosphorus
Soil properties
Tibetan Plateau
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The grassland ecosystems of the Tibetan Plateau have witnessed substantial transformations in recent decades, driven by various global factors, including alterations in temperature and precipitation, nitrogen (N) deposition, and regional effects. Despite documented shifts in species richness and distribution towards higher elevations, there is a scarcity of comprehensive plant and soil data along elevation gradients in alpine grasslands. The intricate interplay between soil properties and nutrient supply on vegetation patterns at high altitudes, particularly the response of the "grass-line" to global warming, remains unexplored. To bridge these knowledge gaps, our research investigated the impacts of global changes, specifically warming and N deposition, and soil properties on soil phosphorus (P) transformation and plant P uptake. Leveraging insights from long-term nutrient addition experiments, random sampling, and open-top chamber experiments along elevation gradients in an alpine grassland on the northeastern Tibetan Plateau, the study delved into soil properties such as texture, bulk density, soil organic carbon (SOC), and soil P fractions. Furthermore, it explores plant and microbial P pools, P acquisition strategies, and biomass. Results revealed that N input had a discernible effect on plant P requirements, particularly under conditions of deficient soil available P. Changes in P acquisition strategies wielded a more substantial influence on community structure and composition than alterations in root traits. The addition of P significantly impacted plant growth, signifying a shift from nitrogen to P limitation with increased N input. Soil properties exhibited variations among sites, but pH remained stable at 0–10 cm soil depth due to the adequate levels of calcium and magnesium in the soil, which could buffer the impact of N deposition on soil acidification in the grassland ecosystem. Strong positive correlations were observed between organic P pools, SOC, and total N, highlighting the pivotal role of soil organic matter in sustaining soil P reserves. More importantly, P limitation did not emerge as the primary factor propelling grasses to higher elevations; instead, other soil properties and nutrients might play a key role. These findings underscore the importance of specific combinations of soil properties in constraining plant growth on the northeastern plateau, thereby influencing biodiversity and biomass production. This research highlights the factors influencing effective soil nutrients and provides valuable insights into predicting the impact of global changes on the stability and productivity of alpine grassland ecosystems.

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