Increased nitrogen (N) and water availability, resulting from global changes or ecosystem management, were predicted to promote plant productivity and change community composition through shifts in competition hierarchies. So far, however, it still remains unclear how competitive interactions respond to N and water additions, which will be important to understand how plant community composition changes. To test plant competition ability in different successional stages under N and water addition treatments, a pot experiment under field conditions was performed. Six dominant plant species, three early-successional species, Artemisia lavandulaefolia, Artemisia capillaris, and Pennisetum centrasiaticum versus three late-successional species, Stipa krylovii, Leymus chinensis, and Artemisia frigida, were grown in monocultures and in twospecies mixtures under factorial combinations of N and water addition treatments. We found that (1) there were interactive effects of N addition, water addition and interspecific competition on plant biomass; (2) For a given species, competitive abilities were correlated with biomass difference of neighboring species; (3) N and water additions interactively increased competition intensity and shifted species competitive hierarchies; (4) Late-successional species had stronger competitive abilities in the N addition treatment, whereas early-successional species had stronger competitive abilities after water addition or N water addition. Our results show that N and water additions increased the intensity and impact of interspecific competition on plant growth, which has great implications for community structures. Since interspecific differences in competitive abilities were not well explained by species biomass, species identity, such as plant functional traits, should be included to predict the impact of increased N and water availability on plant communities and ecosystem functions.
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Vol. 62 • No. 4