, Volume 77, Issue 4, pp 506–514

Differences in carbon and nutrient fractions among arctic growth forms

  • F. S. ChapinIII
  • G. R. Shaver
Original Papers


In a survey of 28 plant species of 6 major growth forms from Alaskan tundra, we found no consistent difference among growth forms in the chemical nature of stored reserves except for lichens and mosses (which stored C primarily as polysaccharides) and shrubs (which tended to store C more as sugars than as polysaccharides). Forbs and graminoids showed particularly great diversity in the chemical nature of stored reserves. In contrast, C, N, and P chemistry of leaves was strikingly similar among all species and growth forms. Concentrations of stored reserves of C, N, and P were highest and showed greatest seasonal fluctuations in forbs and graminoids but were relatively constant in evergreen shrubs. From this information, we draw three general conclusions: (1) the photosynthetic function of leaves strongly constrains leaf chemistry so that similar chemical composition is found in all species and growth forms: (2) the chemical nature of storage reserves is highly variable, both within and among growth forms; (3) the concentration and seasonal pattern of storage reserves are closely linked to growth-form and reflect growth-form differences in woodiness, phenology, and relative dependence upon concurrent uptake vs. storage in support of growth.

Key words

Carbohydrate Growth form Nitrogen Phosphorus Tundra 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • F. S. ChapinIII
    • 1
  • G. R. Shaver
    • 2
  1. 1.Institute of Arctic BiologyUniversity of AlaskaFairbanksUSA
  2. 2.Marine Biological LaboratoryThe Ecosystems CenterWoods HoleUSA

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