J Plant Ecol ›› 2023, Vol. 16 ›› Issue (4): rtac093.DOI: 10.1093/jpe/rtac093

• Research Articles •    

Divergent leaf nutrient-use strategies of coexistent evergreen and deciduous trees in a subtropical forest

Xiaoping Chen1,2,3,4, Xingui Le5, Karl J. Niklas6, Dandan Hu2,3,4, Quanlin Zhong2,3,4, Dongliang Cheng2,3,4,*   

  1. 1College of Tourism and Resources Environment, Zaozhuang University, Zaozhuang 277160, China;
    2Institute of Geography, School of Geographical Sciences, Fujian Normal University, Fuzhou 350007, China;
    3Key Laboratory of Humid Subtropical Eco-geographical Process (Ministry of Education), College of Geographical Sciences, Fujian Normal University, Fuzhou 350007, China;
    4Fujian Provincial Key Laboratory of Plant Ecophysiology, College of Geographical Sciences, Fujian Normal University, Fuzhou 350007, China;
    5Yangjifeng National Nature Reserve Administration, Yingtan, China, 6Plant Biology Section, School of Integrative Plant Science, Cornell University, Ithaca 14850, NY, USA
  • Received:2022-05-22 Revised:2022-07-08 Accepted:2022-10-07 Online:2022-10-21 Published:2023-08-01
  • Contact: E-mail: chengdl02@aliyun.com


Abstract: Evergreen and deciduous species coexist in the subtropical forests in southeastern China. It has been suggested that phosphorus (P) is the main limiting nutrient in subtropical forests, and that evergreen and deciduous species adopt different carbon capture strategies to deal with this limitation. However, these hypotheses have not been examined empirically to a sufficient degree. In order to fill this knowledge gap, we measured leaf photosynthetic and respiration rates, and nutrient traits related to P-, nitrogen (N)- and carbon (C)-use efficiencies and resorption using 75 woody species (44 evergreen and 31 deciduous species) sampled in a subtropical forest. The photosynthetic N-use efficiency (PNUE), respiration rate per unit N and P (Rd,N and Rd,P, respectively) of the deciduous species were all significantly higher than those of evergreen species, but not in the case of photosynthetic P-use efficiency. These results indicate that, for any given leaf P, evergreen species manifest higher carbon-use efficiency (CUE) than deciduous species, a speculation that is empirically confirmed. In addition, no significant differences were observed between deciduous and evergreen species for nitrogen resorption efficiency, phosphorus resorption efficiency or N:P ratios. These results indicate that evergreen species coexist with deciduous species and maintain dominance in P-limited subtropical forests by maintaining CUE. Our results also indicate that it is important to compare the PNUE of deciduous species with evergreen species in other biomes. These observations provide insights into modeling community dynamics in subtropical forests, particularly in light of future climate change.

Key words: photosynthetic nutrient-use efficiency, carbon-use efficiency, nitrogen resorption efficiency, phosphorus resorption efficiency, species coexistence


关键词: 光合养分利用效率, 碳利用效率, 氮吸收效率, 磷吸收效率, 物种共存