Ecological Research

, Volume 24, Issue 6, pp 1243–1250 | Cite as

Leaf-trait relationships of Quercus liaotungensis along an altitudinal gradient in Dongling Mountain, Beijing

Original Article

Abstract

Few studies have examined leaf-trait relationships in the distribution of individual species along an environmental gradient. Here we address the issue by testing for the leaf-trait relationships of Quercus liaotungensis, a dominant deciduous woody species in northern China, along an altitudinal gradient in Dongling Mountain, Beijing. These leaf traits included specific leaf area (SLA), leaf dry matter content (LDMC), and leaf nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium concentration on mass basis (Nmass, Pmass and Kmass, respectively). Along the altitudinal gradient, negative relationships between SLA and LDMC and Nmass were found, and Nmass, Pmass and Kmass correlated with each other positively. Relationship between Nmass and Pmass was stronger than the ones between Nmass and Kmass, and between Pmass and Kmass. The weak and negative relationship between SLA and Nmass might result from trade-offs that limit photosynthesis and water use efficiency along the altitudinal gradient, suggesting many environmental factors of local site being the collective forcing of drivers. Out of our expectations, Nmass and Pmass related very weakly to soil N and P, and no significant relationship between Kmass and soil K was found along elevation. These relationships could be used to predict the productivity of the population with changing environment in this region.

Keywords

Specific leaf area Leaf dry matter content Nutrient stoichiometry Altitudinal gradient Quercus liaotungensis Dongling Mountain 

Notes

Acknowledgments

We thank the following members, Jieyu Zhang, Liang Zhou, Bing Xia, Houjun Tang, Ming Jin, Sha Huang, Jianlei Zhuang, from Beijing Forestry University and Haihua Wang from Chinese Academy of Environmental Science of our team for their help with data collection and sampling. This work was funded by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 30870459), Foundation of Innovational Research Group of NSFC (No. 40621061) and Foundation of Field Research Station of CAS.

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Copyright information

© The Ecological Society of Japan 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Urban and Regional Ecology, Research Center for Eco-Environmental SciencesChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina

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