Correlations among Leaf Traits of Typical Shrubs and Their Responses to Different Light Environments in Shrub-Grassland of Southern China (2015)

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It is widely accepted that light, one of the critical environmental factors, affects growth and distribution of plants. Leaf traits, which are of crucial importance to capture carbon, are generally consistent across environmental gradients. There are also similar patterns of correlations among different leaf traits, so it is essential to explore how leaf traits respond to and adapt to different light environments for a comprehensive understanding of ecosystem management. Our study aimed to investigate leaf traits and their correlations inside and outside the forests of three typical shrubs (i.e. Salix etosia, Rubus setchuenensis and Hydrangea aspera) in shrub-grassland of southern China. Field sampling survey was carried out to collect leaves under different light environments (inside and outside the forests) in Yunyang County. The results showed that the correlations among leaf traits of three shrubs vary one to another, i.e. species-specific. There was no significant difference in leaf traits of S. etosia under different light environments, while significant differences in leaf traits were found for R. setchuenensi and H. aspera. Both SLA and LNC of R. setchuenensi and H. aspera increased inside the forests for adapting to lower illuminance. In addition, LCC of H. aspera increased significantly inside the forests, which indicated a relatively strong carbon fixation capacity. Leaf traits of R. setchuenensis and H. aspera were mainly affected by soil temperature under different light environments. Our study demonstrated that there existed the phenotypic plasticity for plant leaf traits, and different plants had species-specific responses as well as strategies to adapt to different environments.
Year: 2015
Language: English
In: Chinese Journal of Ecology, 34 (9): 2424-2431 p.

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 Record created 2015-10-16, last modified 2015-10-16