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Exploring Driving Factors Affecting Soil Ecological Stoichiometry in Typical Ecologically Fragile Areas of China



Ecological stoichiometry plays an important role in revealing the mechanism of biogeochemical cycle and its relationship with the structure, function, and process of ecosystems. 

Soil is the foundation of terrestrial ecosystem, and soil ecological stoichiometry can promote an in-depth understanding of nutrient cycling, ecosystem dynamics, and biogeochemical cycle mechanisms.  

Recently, researchers from the Northwest Institute of Eco-Environment and Resources of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) revealed the spatial pattern and its driving mechanism of soil organic carbon (C), total nitrogen (N), and total phosphorus (P) stoichiometry along environmental gradients that covered a total length of about 4300 km in typical ecologically fragile areas of China. 

Related results were published in CATENA on Sept. 15. 

The researchers found that C and N concentrations at 0 to 20 cm were significantly (p < 0.05) higher than that at 20 to 30 cm, but P did not differ significantly among depths. Soil C:N:P in the ecologically fragile areas was 51:4:1 to a depth of 30 cm, which is lower than the average global C:N:P (111:8:1). 

C, N, and P in the ecologically fragile areas showed strong coupling relationships. The spatial pattern of C, N, and P stoichiometry along environmental gradients was variable.  

Besides, the study also revealed that the contributions to explaining the soil stoichiometry was highest for climate (21.7%), followed by vegetation (8.9%), soil properties (6.4%), and topography (0.6%) to a depth of 20 cm, versus vegetation (35.9%), climate (5.3%), soil properties (3.3%), and topography (2.1%) at 20 to 30 cm.  

The results provide new insights into the biogeochemical cycles of C, N, and P and provide guidance for their impacts on ecological restoration in ecologically fragile areas. 



LI Yuqiang 



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