Direct and indirect effects of long-term fertilization on the stability of the persistent seed bank

Chunhui Zhang, Charles G. Willis, Zhen Ma, Miaojun Ma, Péter Csontos, Carol C. Baskin, Jerry M. Baskin, Junyong Li, Huakun Zhou, Xinquan Zhao, Buqing Yao, Guozhen Du

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background and aims: If and how eutrophication influences the persistent soil seed bank is poorly understood. Here, we hypothesized that eutrophication alters the composition of the persistent seed bank indirectly through changes in the soil characteristics and aboveground plant community and productivity. We also hypothesized that changes in the persistent seed bank will consequently impact the aboveground vegetative composition. Methods: We tested these hypotheses using data from a 9-year nitrogen and phosphorus fertilization experiment in an alpine meadow ecosystem on the eastern Qinghai-Tibet plateau. Results: We found that long-term nitrogen and phosphorus fertilization indirectly impacted the composition of the persistent seed bank through changes in soil pH, aboveground vegetation composition and annual net primary productivity (ANPP). Changes in the composition of the persistent seed bank, however, were relatively minor in comparison to changes in aboveground vegetation composition. Finally, changes in the persistent seed bank did not feedback on aboveground vegetation composition. Conclusion: Our findings demonstrate the importance of soil pH, ANPP and vegetation composition in regulating the persistent seed bank under eutrophication. Our results also highlight the relative stability of the persistent seed bank to long-term eutrophication and their important contribution to the sustainability of grassland ecosystems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalPlant and Soil
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2019

Keywords

  • Alpine meadow
  • Annual net primary productivity
  • Eutrophication
  • Qinghai-Tibet plateau
  • Soil pH
  • Soil seed bank
  • Vegetation composition

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