, Volume 25, Issue 2, pp 301–310 | Cite as

Leaf respiration/photosynthesis relationship and variation: an investigation of 39 woody and herbaceous species in east subtropical China

  • Ziyan Chu
  • Yijun Lu
  • Jie ChangEmail author
  • Meng Wang
  • Hong Jiang
  • Jinsheng He
  • Changhui PengEmail author
  • Ying Ge
Original Paper


Thirty-nine plant species including woody and herbaceous species grown in wet and warm subtropical regions were collected and classified into woody and herb functional groups. Net photosynthesis (P n) and dark respiration (R) were measured at constant 25°C under neither water nor nitrogen limited condition to assess whether the R/P n ratio was constant across different species and functional groups. Our results suggest that P n and R were highly skewed among the 39 species, ranging from 5 to 25 and 1 to 5 μmol m−2 s−1, respectively, while R/P n ratio was normally distributed at 0.1–0.3. Mean R/P n ratio was 0.19 for 39 species, and 0.20 and 0.18 for woody and herbs, respectively, showing no significant difference between the two groups. Leaf P n, R, and R/P n ratios exhibited large variations across 39 species while R/P n ratio in our subtropical species was considerably higher than other studies. Our results also indicated that the difference within each group was even larger than between the two groups. Based on the pooled data set at global scale, and considering R/P n ratios performance under a combination of wet and warm conditions, the mean R/P n ratio of 0.19 fell between the R/P n ratio of 0.23 under dry and warm conditions and the R/P n ratio of 0.07 under cold regardless of the precipitation conditions. The comparison with published data sets indicated significant effects of long-term precipitation and temperature on leaf R/P n ratios at global scale, and we found that the plants adapting to warm and wet climates including our thirty-nine species tend to have a lower R/P n ratio.


Leaf traits Carbon use efficiency Greenhouse Functional groups Global 



We are grateful for the funding provided by the National Science Foundation of China 30970281, the Research Fund for the Doctoral Program of Higher Education (No. J20060157) and the Y.C. Tang Disciplinary Development Fund as well as the Natural Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) and the Canada Research Chair program. We also thank Mr. Brian Doonan for editorial improvement.

Supplementary material

468_2010_506_MOESM1_ESM.doc (100 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOC 99 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of Life SciencesZhejiang UniversityHangzhouPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.The International Institute of Earth System ScienceNanjing UniversityNanjingPeople’s Republic of China
  3. 3.International Research Center of Spatial-Ecology and Ecosystem EcologyZhejiang Forestry UniversityHangzhouPeople’s Republic of China
  4. 4.Department of EcologyPeking UniversityBeijingPeople’s Republic of China
  5. 5.Département des sciences biologiques, Institut des sciences de l’environnementUniversité du Quebec à MontréalMontrealCanada

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