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Adaptation of dominant species to drought in the inner mongolia grassland – species level and functional type level analysis

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  • Yongzhi Yan, Inner Mongolia University China
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  • Qingfu Liu, Ministry of Education Key Laboratory of Ecology and Resource Use of the Mongolian Plateau & Inner Mongolia Key Laboratory of Grassland Ecology, Inner Mongolia University China
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  • Qing Zhang, Inner Mongolia University China
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  • Yong Ding, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences
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  • Yuanheng Li, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences

The adaptation of plants to drought through the adjustment of their leaf functional traits is a hot topic in plant ecology. However, while there is a good understanding of how individual species adapt to drought in this way, the way in which different functional types adapt to drought along a precipitation gradient remains poorly understood. In this study, we sampled 22 sites along a precipitation gradient in the Inner Mongolia grassland and measured eight leaf functional traits across 39 dominant species to determine the adaptive strategies of plant leaves to drought at the species and plant functional type levels. We found that leaf functional traits were mainly influenced by both aridity and phylogeny at the species level. There were four types of leaf adaptations to drought at the functional type level: adjusting the carbon-nitrogen ratio, the specific leaf area, the nitrogen content, and the specific leaf area and leaf nitrogen content simultaneously. These findings indicate that there is the trade-offs relationship between water and nitrogen acquisition as the level of drought increases, which is consistent with the worldwide leaf economics spectrum. In this study, we highlighted that the leaf economic spectrum can be adopted to reveal the adaptations of plants to drought in the Inner Mongolia grassland.

TidsskriftFrontiers in Plant Science
StatusUdgivet - apr. 2019

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