Stoichiometric characteristics of soil in an oasis on northern edge of Tarim Basin, China

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    Carbon (C), nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) are the three most important basic elements in soils of arid regions because biogeochemical circulations are closely related to ecological structures, processes and functions of the soils. Ecological stoichiometry combining the first law of thermodynamics, the theory of natural selection during biological evolutions, and the central dogma of molecular biology, has organically integrated biological studies of different scales in the fields of molecules, cells, species groups, communities and ecosystems. As soil is an important component of the terrestrial ecosystem, its elements stoichiometry characteristics plays a substantial role in terrestrial cycling of carbon and nutrients. Four types of soils, i.e. irrigated desert soil, brown desert soil, saline soil and aeolian sandy soil, in the Alar Reclamation Zone at the north edge of the Tarim Basin were selected as objects of the study to explore stoichiometry characteristics soil C, N and P, and to to analyze in-depth their relationships with other physical and chemical factors using the redundancy analysis (RDA) technique of the sorting method. Results show that the mean content of soil C, N and P was 2.97, 0.27 and 0.64 mg g-1, respectively; and soil C: N, N: P and C: P ratio was 12.14, 0.40 and 4.55, respectively. Soil C and P varied moderately and soil N quite sharply in stoichiometrical characteristics in all the four soils. Correlation analysis of the elements shows that extremely significant correlations exist between C and N, and between C and P (p<0.01) , and between N and P (p <0.05). And C and N were almost synchronous in variation, while P always lagged behind the two. Compared with the average of the global soil (C: N: P=186: 13: 1), the soils in this area, regardless of type of soil, were lower in C: N: P ratio (11: 1: 2.37), thus leading to lower soil nutrient availability. In terms of C, N and P contents, the four soils followed an order of irrigated desert soil > Saline soil > brown desert soil > aeolian sandy soil. Stoichiometrical ratios of the three elements varied somewhat with the type of soil. C: N was more stable than N: P and C: P. In terms of C: N, the four soils followed an order of saline soil > aeolian sandy soil > brown desert soil > irrigated desert soil, and in terms of. N: P and C: P, they did an order of irrigated desert soil > brown desert soil > saline soil > aeolian sandy soil. RDA shows that soil water content is the major factor affecting stoichiometrical properties of soil C, N and P in the study area and soil bulk density followed. However, pH and total salt did not have much significant impact. Soil moisture content was significantly and positively related to C, N and P contents, and also positively to N: P and C: P, but negatively to C: N. Soil bulk density was significantly and negatively related to C, N, N: P and C: P, but positively to P content and C: N. Soil N: P and surface soil C: N are two factors that can be used jointly as a good indicator of soil N supply. Overall consideration of soil C: N and N: P in the region reveals that soil C: N is <30 and N: P <14, which determines variation of stoichiometrical characteristics of C, N and P in the soils of the study area.

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Li Honglin, Gong Lu, Zhu Meiling, Liu Zengyuan, Xie Lina, Hong Yi. Stoichiometric characteristics of soil in an oasis on northern edge of Tarim Basin, China[J]. Acta Pedologica Sinica,2015,52(6):1345-1355.

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  • Received:November 22,2014
  • Revised:April 06,2015
  • Adopted:July 01,2015
  • Online: August 31,2015
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