Leaf traits from stomata to morphology are associated with climatic and edaphic variables for dominant tropical forest evergreen oaks

Yutong Lin, Luhui Kuang, Songbo Tang, Zhijian Mou, Oliver L. Phillips, Hans Lambers, Zhanfeng Liu, Jordi Sardans, Josep Peñuelas, Yuan Lai, Mingxian Lin, Dexiang Chen, Yuanwen Kuang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Aims: Understanding variation and coordination of leaf traits at multiscales along elevational gradients can help predict the likely responses of dominant species to climate change. We seek to determine the extent to which variation in leaf stomatal, anatomical and morphological traits is associated with environmental factors, and whether ecological strategies of Cyclobalanopsis species shift with elevations. Methods: In a tropical forest landscape in Jianfengling, South China, we determined leaf traits related to stomata, anatomy and morphology of six evergreen oak species (Cyclobalanopsis bambusaefolia, C. hui, C. patelliformis, C. fleuryi, C. tiaoloshanica and C. phanera) along a long elevational gradient (400-1400 m above sea level). Important Findings: We found that stomatal density and stomatal pore index increased, whereas spongy mesophyll thickness to leaf thickness ratios decreased, significantly with elevation. The leaf area and leaf dry matter content increased and decreased, respectively, with elevation. Variations in stomatal, anatomical and morphological traits were mainly correlated to the mean annual temperature, mean annual sum precipitation and soil pH. At low and high elevations, the oak species exhibited strong stress tolerance combined with competition strategy, while they shifted toward more clearly the competitive strategy at intermediate elevations. And the changes in soil phosphorus concentration and soil pH along the elevation may drive the shift of ecological strategy. The results showed that the dominant oak species in tropical forests respond to environmental change by modulating traits at multiple levels, from that of the individual cell, through tissue and up to the whole leaf scale.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1115-1127
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Plant Ecology
Volume14
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2021

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