Low temperature is an important limiting factor for alpine ecosystems on the Tibetan Plateau. This study is based on data from on-site experimental warming platforms (open top chambers, OTC) at three elevations (4300 m, 4500 m, 4700 m) on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. The carbon and nitrogen stoichiometry characteristics of plant communities, both above-ground and below-ground, were observed in three alpine meadow ecosystems in August and September of 2011 and August of 2012. Experimental warming significantly increased above-ground nitrogen content by 21.4% in September 2011 at 4500 m, and reduced above-ground carbon content by 3.9% in August 2012 at 4300 m. Experimental warming significantly increased below-ground carbon content by 5.5% in August 2011 at 4500 m, and the below-ground ratio of carbon to nitrogen by 28.0% in September 2011 at 4300 m, but reduced below-ground nitrogen content by 15.7% in September 2011 at 4700 m, below-ground carbon content by 34.3% in August 2012 at 4700 m, and the below-ground ratio of carbon to nitrogen by 37.9% in August 2012 at 4700 m. Experimental warming had no significant effect on the characteristics of community carbon and nitrogen stoichiometry under other conditions. Therefore, experimental warming had inconsistent effects on the carbon and nitrogen stoichiometry of plant communities at different elevations and during different months. Soil ammonium nitrogen and nitrate nitrogen content were the main factors affecting plant community carbon and nitrogen stoichiometry.
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Vol. 11 • No. 3