Response of plant nutrient stoichiometry to fertilization varied with plant tissues in a tropical forest
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Plant N:P ratios are widely used as indices of nutrient limitation in terrestrial ecosystems, but the response of these metrics in different plant tissues to altered N and P availability and their interactions remains largely unclear. We evaluated changes in N and P concentrations, N:P ratios of new leaves (<1 yr), older leaves (>1 yr), stems and mixed fine roots of seven species after 3-years of an N and P addition experiment in a tropical forest. Nitrogen addition only increased fine root N concentrations. P addition increased P concentrations among all tissues. The N × P interaction reduced leaf and stem P concentrations, suggesting a negative effect of N addition on P concentrations under P addition. The reliability of using nutrient ratios as indices of soil nutrient availability varied with tissues: the stoichiometric metrics of stems and older leaves were more responsive indicators of changed soil nutrient availability than those of new leaves and fine roots. However, leaf N:P ratios can be a useful indicator of inter-specific variation in plant response to nutrients availability. This study suggests that older leaf is a better choice than other tissues in the assessment of soil nutrient status and predicting plant response to altered nutrients using nutrients ratios.
© The Author(s), 2015. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License. The definitive version was published in Scientific Reports 5 (2015): 14605, doi:10.1038/srep14605.
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