, Volume 20, Issue 5, pp 611–618 | Cite as

Biomass distribution of different-aged needles in young and old Pinus cembra trees at highland and lowland sites

Original Article


Conifer needles of different ages perform differently in ecophysiology. However, no study has investigated the biomass distribution of different-aged needles in a tree crown or/and a stand canopy. We carried out a study on young (∼50 years old) and old (∼200 years) Pinus cembra L. trees at highland (2100–2300 m a.s.l.) and lowland (570 m) sites in Switzerland. We found that both the young and the old trees living in the highlands had more needle biomass per tree than the same-aged trees of the same species living in the lowlands. This is mainly due to the greater longevity of needles in highland trees. It reflects the strategic responses of trees to low resource availability or high abiotic stress level. Having older needles increases the time that nutrients are resident in trees in less favorable environments, and compensates for shorter growing period in cold temperatures.


Age-dependent Elevational gradient Leaf longevity Needle biomass allocation Pine 



The authors thank Ms. Jian Yang and Dr. Feihai Yu for their assistance in this study. The authors express their heartfelt gratitude to Dr. Christian Körner, Dr. Heike Lischke and Dr. Anna W. Schoettle for their valuable comments and suggestions, to Dr. Ivano Brunner for providing laboratory, to Mr. Anton Burkart for providing the climate data, and to Dr. Silvia Dingwall for checking the language.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mai-He Li
    • 1
    • 2
  • Norbert Kräuchi
    • 1
  • Matthias Dobbertin
    • 1
  1. 1.Forest Ecosystems and Ecological RisksSwiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research WSLBirmensdorfSwitzerland
  2. 2.Institute of Mountain Hazards and EnvironmentChinese Academy of Sciences and Ministry of Water ConservancyChengduChina

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