Australian Journal of Botany Australian Journal of Botany Society
Southern hemisphere botanical ecosystems
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Variations in δ13C values among major plant community types in the Xilin River Basin, Inner Mongolia, China

Shiping Chen A , Yongfei Bai A , Guanghui Lin A , Jianhui Huang A and Xingguo Han A B
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Laboratory of Quantitative Vegetation Ecology, Institute of Botany, the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100093, China.

B Corresponding author. Email: xghan@ibcas.ac.cn

Australian Journal of Botany 55(1) 48-54 https://doi.org/10.1071/BT06053
Submitted: 20 March 2006  Accepted: 5 September 2006   Published: 18 January 2007

Abstract

The δ13C values of 51 plant species selected from eight plant communities along a moisture gradient were measured. Our results showed that all the community types that we investigated are dominated by C3 species in the Xilin River Basin. Large variations in the average 13C natural abundance of different communities were detected, and the magnitude of δ13C values showed the following trend: typical steppe (–23.0‰) > degraded steppe (–23.5‰) > sand dune (–25.0‰) > restoring degraded steppe (–25.8‰) > meadow steppe (–26.4‰) ≥ saline meadow (–26.5‰) > swamp meadow (–28.2‰). The major determinants of the biomass-weighted δ13C values in a given community were the presence or absence of C4 plants, the intrinsic variation among species and the variation of the same species growing in different habitats with different soil-moisture regimes and disturbance history. These results suggested that different habitats support dominant species with different water-use efficiencies and a trend in the community-level δ13C values was observed, as ascribed by the contribution of C4 plants and/or the variations among species or the response of water-use efficiency of the same species to different soil moisture conditions.


Acknowledgements

We thank Dr Linghao Li for helpful comments on an earlier version of this manuscript. Thanks go to Dr Quansheng Chen for providing floral composition data of the swamp site. This research was supported by the ‘100 Talents’ project of Chinese Academy of Sciences to G. Lin and the National Natural Science Foundation of China (30330150 and 90511001).


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