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ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Logan, Utah » Forage and Range Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #343825

Research Project: Develop Improved Plant Genetic Resources to Enhance Pasture and Rangeland Productivity in the Semiarid Regions of the Western U.S.

Location: Forage and Range Research

Title: Litter accumulation and nutrient content of roadside plant communities in Sichuan Basin, China

Author
item He, Huiqin - Yibin University
item Monaco, Thomas

Submitted to: Plants
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/29/2017
Publication Date: 8/30/2017
Citation: He, H., Monaco, T.A. 2017. Litter accumulation and nutrient content of roadside plant communities in Sichuan Basin, China. Plants.

Interpretive Summary: It is widely recognized that plant community composition strongly influences plant litter, but this relationship is difficult to interpret over heterogeneous conditions typical of modified environments such as roadways. We characterized litter accumulation and nutrient content (i.e., organic C, total N and P) and quantified their association with key plant species. Plant species cover and litter characteristics were sampled at 18 successional forest plant communities along major roadways in Sichuan Basin, western China. Variation in litter was assessed with Principal Component Analysis (PCA) and species with the highest correlation to PCA axes were determined with Pearson's r coefficients. Plant communities primarily varied in litter total N and organic C, which were distinctly different in plant communities with the longest time since road construction (i.e., 70 yrs.). We encountered 59 plant species, but surprisingly, only five were strongly correlated litter characteristics (P<0.01); none of which were the most abundant where they occurred. These results highlight the importance of site-specific factors regulating plant litter across heavily disturbed landscapes and how litter influences rare plant species.

Technical Abstract: It is widely recognized that plant community composition strongly influences plant litter, but this relationship is difficult to interpret over heterogeneous conditions typical of modified environments such as roadways. We characterized litter accumulation and nutrient content (i.e., organic C, total N and P) and quantified their association with key plant species. Plant species cover and litter characteristics were sampled at 18 successional forest plant communities along major roadways in Sichuan Basin, western China. Variation in litter was assessed with Principal Component Analysis (PCA) and species with the highest correlation to PCA axes were determined with Pearson's r coefficients. Plant communities primarily varied in litter total N and organic C, which were distinctly different in plant communities with the longest time since road construction (i.e., 70 yrs.). We encountered 59 plant species, but surprisingly, only five were strongly correlated litter characteristics (P<0.01); none of which were the most abundant where they occurred. These results highlight the importance of site-specific factors regulating plant litter across heavily disturbed landscapes and how litter influences rare plant species.