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South-western Australia is a global biodiversity hotspot and has some of the oldest and most phosphorus (P)-impoverished soils in the world. Proteaceae is one of the dominant P-efficient plant families there, but it is unknown how leaf P concentrations and foliar P allocation of Proteaceae and coexisting dominant plant families vary between seasons and habitats. To investigate this, we selected 18 species from Proteaceae, Myrtaceae and Fabaceae, six from each family, in two habitats from Alison Baird Reserve (32°1′19′′S 15°58′52′′E) in Western Australia. Total leaf P and nitrogen (N) concentrations, leaf mass per area, photosynthetic rate, pre-dawn leaf water potential and foliar P fractions were determined for each species both at the end of summer (March 2019 and early April 2020) and at the end of winter (September 2019). Soil P availability was also determined for each site. This is the very first study that focused on seasonal changes of foliar P fractions from different P-impoverished environments in three plant families. However, contrary to our expectation, we found little evidence for convergence of foliar P allocation within family, season or habitat. Each species exhibited a specific species-dependent pattern of foliar P allocation, and many species showed differences between seasons. Native plants in south-western Australia converged on a high photosynthetic P-use efficiency, but each species showed its own unique way associated with that outcome.
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- 2 Finished
1/07/20 → 30/06/23