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Wang, Y; Zhou, GS (2012). Light Use Efficiency over Two Temperate Steppes in Inner Mongolia, China. PLOS ONE, 7(8), e43614.

Vegetation light use efficiency (LUE) is a key parameter of Production Efficiency Models (PEMs) for simulating gross primary production (GPP) of vegetation, from regional to global scales. Previous studies suggest that grasslands have the largest inter-site variation of LUE and controlling factors of grassland LUE differ from those of other biomes, since grasslands are usually water-limited ecosystems. Combining eddy covariance flux data with the fraction of photosynthetically active radiation absorbed by the plant canopy from MODIS, we report LUE on a typical steppe and a desert steppe in Inner Mongolia, northern China. Results show that both annual average LUE and maximum LUE were higher on the desert steppe (0.51 and 1.13 g C MJ(-1)) than on the typical steppe (0.34 and 0.88 g C MJ(-1)), despite the higher GPP of the latter. Water availability was the primary limiting factor of LUE at both sites. Evaporative fraction (EF) or the ratio of actual evapotranspiration to potential evapotranspiration (AET/PET) can explain 50-70% of seasonal LUE variations at both sites. However, the slope of linear regression between LUE and EF (or AET/PET) differed significantly between the two sites. LUE increased with the diffuse radiation ratio on the typical steppe; however, such a trend was not found for the desert steppe. Our results suggest that a biome-dependent LUEmax is inappropriate, because of the large inter-site difference of LUEmax within the biome. EF could be a promising down-regulator on grassland LUE for PEMs, but there may be a site-specific relationship between LUE and EF.



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