Changes in plant nutrient utilization during ecosystem recovery after wildfire

Zhaopeng Song, Huixia Tian, Zhaolei Li, Yiqi Luo, Yanhong Liu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Wildfire is the primary natural disturbance in boreal forest ecosystems. It substantially changes soil nutrient conditions and plant nutrient dynamics. After a wildfire, various plant strategies of nutrient utilization are fundamental to ecosystem recovery processes. Stability of plant nutrients reflects the ability of plants possessing relatively constant elemental concentrations in the face of nutrient changes, which can be calculated by the value of “nutrient homeostasis”. However, the mechanism of how nutrient homeostasis mediates plant community recovery in post-fire ecosystems remains unknown. The dominant tree species that survived after fire and the new emergence of regenerated tree species are the important components of a plant community during the recovery process. Our primary objective was to elucidate the nutrient homeostasis trade-off between dominant and regenerated species over years after recovery. Five treatments, namely, 2 year, 10 year, 20 year, 30 years after moderate burning severity, and unburned forests, were designed in the boreal forests of Great Xing'an Mountains, Northeast China. Compared with unburned forests, wildfire lowered the average value of homeostasis of plant nutrients (N and P). Moreover, the mean homeostasis value of the dominant species (i.e., Larix gmelinii) was higher than that of the regenerated species (i.e., Betula platyphylla). The slope of relationship between nutrient homeostasis and recovery years of the regenerated species was higher than that of the dominant species, suggesting that the nutrient homeostasis in the regenerated species recovered more quickly than dominant species after recovery. Compared with the dominant species, changes in the regenerated species' homeostasis can explained more to the changes of species diversity during the years after recovery. This study revealed plant nutrient adaptation in different species and different plant organs with years after wildfire and highlighted the importance of nutrient homeostasis in plant adaptation strategies and the recovery of plant community.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number112994
JournalJournal of Environmental Management
StatePublished - Oct 1 2021


  • Boreal forest
  • Field survey
  • Homeostasis
  • Nutrient
  • Tree species
  • Wildfire

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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