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Comparison of plant diversity-carbon storage relationships along altitudinal gradients in temperate forests and shrublands

  • Lu, Shuaizhi1, 2
  • Zhang, Dou3
  • Wang, Le4
  • Dong, Lei5
  • Liu, Changcheng1, 2
  • Hou, Dongjie6
  • Chen, Guoping1, 2
  • Qiao, Xianguo1, 2
  • Wang, Yuyouting7
  • Guo, Ke1, 2
  • 1 State Key Laboratory of Vegetation and Environmental Change, Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing , (China)
  • 2 University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing , (China)
  • 3 Department of Environmental Science and Engineering, Fudan University, Shanghai , (China)
  • 4 Institute of Ecological Protection and Restoration, Chinese Academy of Forestry, Beijing , (China)
  • 5 Institute of Water Resources for Pastoral Area Ministry of Water Resources, Inner Mongolia , (China)
  • 6 Inner Mongolia Agricultural University, Hohhot , (China)
  • 7 Yunnan Climate Center, Kunming , (China)
Published Article
Frontiers in Plant Science
Frontiers Media SA
Publication Date
Aug 11, 2023
DOI: 10.3389/fpls.2023.1120050
  • Plant Science
  • Original Research


Understanding the mechanisms underlying the relationship between biodiversity and ecosystem function (BEF) is critical for the implementation of productive and resilient ecosystem management. However, the differences in BEF relationships along altitudinal gradients between forests and shrublands are poorly understood, impeding the ability to manage terrestrial ecosystems and promote their carbon sinks. Using data from 37962 trees of 115 temperate forest and 134 shrubland plots of Taihang Mountains Priority Reserve, we analyzed the effects of species diversity, structural diversity, climate factors and soil moisture on carbon storage along altitudinal gradients in temperate forests and shrublands. We found that: (1) Structural diversity, rather than species diversity, mainly promoted carbon storage in forests. While species diversity had greater positive effect on carbon storage in shrublands. (2) Mean annual temperature (MAT) had a direct negative effect on forest carbon storage, and indirectly affected forest carbon storage by inhibiting structural diversity. In contrast, MAT promoted shrubland carbon storage directly and indirectly through the positive mediating effect of species diversity. (3) Increasing altitudinal gradients enhanced the structural diversity-carbon relationship in forests, but weakened the species diversity-carbon relationship in shrublands. Niche and architectural complementarity and different life strategies of forests and shrubs mainly explain these findings. These differential characteristics are critical for our comprehensive understanding of the BEF relationship and could help guide the differentiated management of forests and shrublands in reaction to environmental changes.

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