Plant economic strategies in two contrasting forests

作  者:Sun K, Sun RJ, Li YB, Ji HC, Jia BR, Xu ZZ*
刊物名称:BMC Plant Biology
卷:23  期:1  页码:366



Predicting relationships between plant functional traits and environmental effects in their habitats is a central issue in terms of classic ecological theories. Yet, only weak correlation with functional trait composition of local plant communities may occur, implying that some essential information might be ignored. In this study, to address this uncertainty, the objective of the study is to test whether and how the consistency of trait relationships occurs by analyzing broad variation in eight traits related to leaf morphological structure, nutrition status and physiological activity, within a large number of plant species in two distinctive but comparable harsh habitats (high-cold alpine fir forest vs. north-cold boreal coniferous forest).


The contrasting and/or consistent relationships between leaf functional traits in the two distinctive climate regions were observed. Higher specific leaf area, photosynthetic rate, and photosynthetic nitrogen use efficiency (PNUE) with lower N concentration occurred in north-cold boreal forest rather than in high-cold alpine forest, indicating the acquisitive vs. conservative resource utilizing strategies in both habitats. The principal component analysis illuminated the divergent distributions of herb and xylophyta groups at both sites. Herbs tend to have a resource acquisition strategy, particularly in boreal forest. The structural equation modeling revealed that leaf density had an indirect effect on PNUE, primarily mediated by leaf structure and photosynthesis. Most of the traits were strongly correlated with each other, highlighting the coordination and/or trade-offs.


We can conclude that the variations in leaf functional traits in north-cold boreal forest were largely distributed in the resource-acquisitive strategy spectrum, a quick investment-return behavior; while those in the high-cold alpine forest tended to be mainly placed at the resource-conservative strategy end. The habitat specificity for the relationships between key functional traits could be a critical determinant of local plant communities. Therefore, elucidating plant economic spectrum derived from variation in major functional traits can provide a fundamental insight into how plants cope with ecological adaptation and evolutionary strategies under environmental changes, particularly in these specific habitats.