Plant Ecology

, Volume 213, Issue 9, pp 1489–1502

Leaf traits and relationships differ with season as well as among species groupings in a managed Southeastern China forest landscape

  • Fu-Sheng Chen
  • Karl J. Niklas
  • Guang-Sheng Chen
  • Dali Guo

DOI: 10.1007/s11258-012-0106-5

Cite this article as:
Chen, FS., Niklas, K.J., Chen, GS. et al. Plant Ecol (2012) 213: 1489. doi:10.1007/s11258-012-0106-5


The relationships among leaf traits often reflect plant adaptation for coping with nutrient resources. However, the seasonal variations in leaf traits and their relationship with soil nutrients are not well understood. We sampled seven major functional traits of thirty trees and nine shrubs (sorted into different plant functional groups, PFGs, based on their growth form, leaf lifespan, and leaf shape) at different seasons in a managed forest plantation of Southeastern China. Both green leaf nitrogen and phosphorus concentrations (Ngreen and Pgreen) decreased significantly from spring and summer to autumn, and varied significantly with PFGs (P < 0.05) at different times of the year. Across all plants, specific leaf area correlated positively with Ngreen and Pgreen in spring, summer, and winter, but not in autumn; N resorption proficiency generally correlated positively with Ngreen in each season, while P resorption efficiency correlated positively with Pgreen in spring and summer, but not in autumn and winter. Soil nitrogen availability correlated negatively with leaf nutrient traits in some seasons. In conclusion, leaf trait relationships varied among the seasons and among PFGs. Seasonal dynamics of leaf traits as well as soil nutrients’ relations must be considered when exploring plant feedback to soil nutrients.


Garden plantation Leaf nutrient concentration Mid-subtropical region Nutrient resorption Plant functional group (PFG) Specific leaf area (SLA) 

Supplementary material

11258_2012_106_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (38 kb)
Table S1Leaf traits of 13 species selected in this study in the forest plantation (PDF 38 kb)

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Fu-Sheng Chen
    • 1
    • 2
  • Karl J. Niklas
    • 3
  • Guang-Sheng Chen
    • 4
  • Dali Guo
    • 5
  1. 1.College of Life SciencesNanchang UniversityNanchangPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.College of ForestryJiangxi Agricultural UniversityNanchangPeople’s Republic of China
  3. 3.Department of Plant BiologyCornell UniversityIthacaUSA
  4. 4.School of Forestry and Wildlife SciencesAuburn UniversityAuburnUSA
  5. 5.Key Laboratory of Ecosystem Network Observation and Modeling, Synthesis Research Center of Chinese Ecosystem Research Network, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources ResearchChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingPeople’s Republic of China

Personalised recommendations