, Volume 27, Issue 5, pp 1405–1416 | Cite as

Altitudinal variation in growth, photosynthetic capacity and water use efficiency of Abies faxoniana Rehd. et Wils. seedlings as revealed by reciprocal transplantations

  • Fei Ran
  • Xiaolu Zhang
  • Yuanbin Zhang
  • Helena Korpelainen
  • Chunyang Li
Original Paper


Altitudinal variation in morphological, physiological and biochemical characteristics between two provenances of Abies faxoniana Rehd. et Wils. from contrasting elevations (3,500 and 2,850 m) was investigated by reciprocal transplantations in the eastern Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau. From each altitude, 54 seedlings were selected, of which 27 seedlings were simply transplanted at their original altitude, while the other 27 seedlings were reciprocally transplanted to another altitude. The results showed that there is evident altitudinal variation in growth, photosynthetic capacity and water use efficiency among A. faxoniana seedlings. Transplantation of seedlings to a lower altitude decreased the leaf pigment content, leaf N content and water use efficiency, but increased CE, P n, LMR and PNUE, consequently promoting NAR, the biomass accumulation and branchlet length increment. Besides, the increase in the C/N ratio reduced the risk of pathogen attack. Based on the substantial plasticity in the responses of the seedlings, we infer that the ongoing climate warming might facilitate the growth of A. faxoniana seedlings at high altitudes.


Alpine plants Altitudinal variation Growth Phenotypic plasticity Water use efficiency 



Financial support was provided by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (31170373) and the Youth Talent Team Program of the Institute of Mountain Hazards and Environment, CAS (SDSQB-2012-01).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Fei Ran
    • 1
  • Xiaolu Zhang
    • 1
  • Yuanbin Zhang
    • 1
  • Helena Korpelainen
    • 2
  • Chunyang Li
    • 1
  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Mountain Surface Processes and Ecological Regulation, Institute of Mountain Hazards and EnvironmentChinese Academy of SciencesChengduChina
  2. 2.Department of Agricultural SciencesUniversity of HelsinkiHelsinkiFinland

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