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Sci Rep. 2016 Jul 14;6:28883. doi: 10.1038/srep28883.

Carbon Storage Patterns of Caragana korshinskii in Areas of Reduced Environmental Moisture on the Loess Plateau, China.

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College of Life Sciences, Northwest A&F University, No. 22 Xinong Road, Yangling, Shaanxi 712100, China.
College of Life Sciences, Zhejiang University, No. 866 Yuhangtang Road, Hangzhou, Zhejiang 310058, China.


Precipitation patterns are influenced by climate change and profoundly alter the carbon sequestration potential of ecosystems. Carbon uptake by shrubbery alone accounts for approximately one-third of the total carbon sink; however, whether such uptake is altered by reduced precipitation is unclear. In this study, five experimental sites characterised by gradual reductions in precipitation from south to north across the Loess Plateau were used to evaluate the Caragana korshinskii's functional and physiological features, particularly its carbon fixation capacity, as well as the relationships among these features. We found the improved net CO2 assimilation rates and inhibited transpiration at the north leaf were caused by lower canopy stomatal conductance, which enhanced the instantaneous water use efficiency and promoted plant biomass as well as carbon accumulation. Regional-scale precipitation reductions over a certain range triggered a distinct increase in the shrub's organic carbon storage with an inevitable decrease in the soil's organic carbon storage. Our results confirm C. korshinskii is the optimal dominant species for the reconstruction of fragile dryland ecosystems. The patterns of organic carbon storage associated with this shrub occurred mostly in the soil at wetter sites, and in the branches and leaves at drier sites across the arid and semi-arid region.

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