, Volume 25, Issue 2, pp 301–310

Leaf respiration/photosynthesis relationship and variation: an investigation of 39 woody and herbaceous species in east subtropical China

Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s00468-010-0506-x

Cite this article as:
Chu, Z., Lu, Y., Chang, J. et al. Trees (2011) 25: 301. doi:10.1007/s00468-010-0506-x


Thirty-nine plant species including woody and herbaceous species grown in wet and warm subtropical regions were collected and classified into woody and herb functional groups. Net photosynthesis (Pn) and dark respiration (R) were measured at constant 25°C under neither water nor nitrogen limited condition to assess whether the R/Pn ratio was constant across different species and functional groups. Our results suggest that Pn and R were highly skewed among the 39 species, ranging from 5 to 25 and 1 to 5 μmol m−2 s−1, respectively, while R/Pn ratio was normally distributed at 0.1–0.3. Mean R/Pn ratio was 0.19 for 39 species, and 0.20 and 0.18 for woody and herbs, respectively, showing no significant difference between the two groups. Leaf Pn, R, and R/Pn ratios exhibited large variations across 39 species while R/Pn ratio in our subtropical species was considerably higher than other studies. Our results also indicated that the difference within each group was even larger than between the two groups. Based on the pooled data set at global scale, and considering R/Pn ratios performance under a combination of wet and warm conditions, the mean R/Pn ratio of 0.19 fell between the R/Pn ratio of 0.23 under dry and warm conditions and the R/Pn ratio of 0.07 under cold regardless of the precipitation conditions. The comparison with published data sets indicated significant effects of long-term precipitation and temperature on leaf R/Pn ratios at global scale, and we found that the plants adapting to warm and wet climates including our thirty-nine species tend to have a lower R/Pn ratio.


Leaf traitsCarbon use efficiencyGreenhouseFunctional groupsGlobal

Supplementary material

468_2010_506_MOESM1_ESM.doc (100 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOC 99 kb)

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of Life SciencesZhejiang UniversityHangzhouPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.The International Institute of Earth System ScienceNanjing UniversityNanjingPeople’s Republic of China
  3. 3.International Research Center of Spatial-Ecology and Ecosystem EcologyZhejiang Forestry UniversityHangzhouPeople’s Republic of China
  4. 4.Department of EcologyPeking UniversityBeijingPeople’s Republic of China
  5. 5.Département des sciences biologiques, Institut des sciences de l’environnementUniversité du Quebec à MontréalMontrealCanada