14 Nov 2023
 | 14 Nov 2023
Status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal BG.

Plant functional traits modulate the effects of soil acidification on above- and belowground biomass

Xue Feng, Ruzhen Wang, Tianpeng Li, Jiangping Cai, Heyong Liu, Hui Li, and Yong Jiang

Abstract. Atmospheric sulfur (S) deposition has been extensively recognized as a major driving force of soil acidification. However, little is known on how soil acidification influences above- and belowground biomass via altering leaf and root traits.

A 3-year elemental S addition were conducted to simulate soil acidification in a meadow. Grass (Leymus chinensis) and sedge (Carex duriuscula) species were chosen to demonstrate the linkage between plant traits and biomass.

Sulfur addition led to soil acidification and nutrient imbalance. For L. chinensis, soil acidification decreased specific leaf area but increased leaf dry matter content showing a conservative strategy and thus suppression of aboveground instead of belowground biomass. For C duriuscula, soil acidification increased plant height and root nutrients (N, P, S, and Mn) for competing resources by investing more on above- and belowground biomass, i.e., an acquisitive strategy. An overall reduction in community aboveground biomass by 3–33 % was resulted from the increased soil acidity. While the community root biomass increased by 11–22 % as upregulated by higher soil nutrient availability.

Our results provide new insights that plant above- and belowground biomass is conditioned by S-invoked acidification and their linkages with plant traits contributed to a deeper understanding of plant-soil feedback.

Xue Feng et al.

Status: open (until 11 Jan 2024)

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Xue Feng et al.


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Short summary
Plant functional traits have been considered as reflecting the adaptations to environmental variations, indirectly affecting ecosystem productivity. How soil acidification affects above- and belowground biomass via altering leaf and root traits remains poorly understood. We found divergent trait responses driven by soil environmental conditions in two dominate species, leading to a decrease in aboveground biomass while an increase in belowground biomass.