How do evergreen and deciduous species respond to shade?—Tolerance and plasticity of subtropical tree and shrub species of South-East China

Created at: 2015-02-09

Envisaged journal: Martin Böhnke, Helge Bruelheide, How do evergreen and deciduous species respond to shade?—Tolerance and plasticity of subtropical tree and shrub species of South-East China, Environmental and Experimental Botany (2013), 87, pp 179-190, dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.envexpbot.2012.09.010.

Envisaged date: 2015-02-09

Rationale

Different plant species make use of resource gradients such as light in different ways. First, plant species specialize in using different parts of the gradient, resulting in niche partitioning, Second, within the section of the gradient used by a species, plants respond to a different resource supply by plasticity. Our study addressed both of these strategies, with the main objective to relate mean responses and plasticity indices of seedlings of woody species to species characteristics such as leaf habit and to variation in branch lengths and local frequency of adult trees in forest communities.

A greenhouse experiment with 36 deciduous and 35 evergreen subtropical tree and shrub species was carried out to test the influence of light and nutrient availability on trait expression and plasticity of the species. The greenhouse responses of seedlings were compared with adult individuals in the field, based on a set of 46 species that occurred also in the 27 permanent plots in a secondary subtropical broadleaved forest in Zhejiang Province (SE-China).

In the greenhouse experiment, most variables showed significant differences between unshaded (250 μE m−2 s−1) and shaded (10 μE m−2 s−1) treatments as well as between high and low nutrient supply. Deciduous species were more plastic than evergreen species in their response to light. No significant correlations were detected in mean responses and plasticity between juvenile plants in the greenhouse and adult trees in the field. However, some trait values such as biomass and node density as well as plasticity of several traits were positively related to the species’ abundance in the field, suggesting that locally abundant species tend to be less “plastic” than locally rare species.

Datasets

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Calculated Authors

Martin Böhnke Helge Bruelheide, Prof.

Data request state

Preparation Project Board Finished