Chin J Plan Ecolo ›› 2017, Vol. 41 ›› Issue (6): 650-660.doi: 10.17521/cjpe.2016.0376

• Research Articles • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Effect of stem length to stem slender ratio of current-year twigs on the leaf display efficiency in evergreen and deciduous broadleaved trees

Jun-Hui LI1, Guo-Quan PENG2, Dong-Mei YANG1,*   

  1. 1College of Chemistry and Life Sciences, Zhejiang Normal University, Jinhua, Zhejiang 321004, China
    2College of Forestry, Northwest A & F University, Yangling, Shaanxi 712100, China;
  • Received:2017-04-05 Accepted:2016-12-12 Online:2017-07-19 Published:2017-06-10
  • Contact: Dong-Mei YANG
  • About author:

    KANG Jing-yao(1991-), E-mail:


Aims Branches and leaves are the two main structural units of tree crown composition. Among the adaptive strategies of plants, the functional traits of branches and the relationships between branch traits and leaf traits determine the capacity of trees to access light and space. In this study, our objective is to test the hypothesis that leaf display efficiency is affected by the stem length to stem slender ratio within current-year twigs.Methods The stem length to stem slender ratios of current-year twigs were used as the proxy of stem structure traits. Leaf area ratio (total leaf area per stem mass), leaf density (leaf number per stem length) and leaf/stem mass ratio (total leaf mass per stem mass) were used as the proxies of leaf display efficiency. The relationship between stem structure traits and leaf display efficiency within current-year twigs were studied for 25 evergreen and 60 deciduous broadleaved woody species in Qingliang Mountain, Zhejiang, China. The standardized major axis estimation method was used to examine the scaling relationship between stem structural traits and leaf display efficiency within current-year twigs.Important findings The proxies of leaf display efficiency, measured by leaf area ratio, leaf density or leaf/stem mass ratio, were all significantly and negative correlated with stem length to stem slender ratio within current-year twigs in both evergreen and deciduous broadleaved woody species. This suggested that leaf display efficiency decreased with stem length to stem slender ratios within current-year twigs, which may reflect the role of mechanical safety and light within twigs. The slope of the relationship between leaf display efficiency and stem long-dimension structure traits in evergreen species was not significantly different from the one in deciduous species. In contrast, the y-intercept of the relationship between leaf density and stem long-dimension structure traits was significantly larger in evergreen species than in deciduous species, i.e. the leafing intensity of evergreen species was higher than that of deciduous species. Individual leaf area and specific leaf area were smaller in evergreen species than in deciduous species, which resulted in deciduous species have a larger leaf area per stem mass and leaf mass per stem mass at a given stem length to stem slender ratio compared to evergreen species. It may reflect the conservative adaptive strategy of high consumption and slow benefit in evergreen species. Our results demonstrated that leaf display efficiency could be affected by stem length, and would change with leaf life-span (deciduous versus evergreen).

Key words: stem length, stem slender ratio, leaf display efficiency, evergreen species, deciduous species

Fig. 1

Relationship between leaf area ratio and current- year twig stem length (A) and stem slender ratio (B)."

Table 1

Summary of standardized major axis estimation regression parameters for the scaling relationships between twig stem structure and other functional trains in plant twigs of broadleaved woody species, Qingliang Mountain."

指标 (y 轴-x 轴)
Index (y axis-x axis)
Functional group
Sample size
Coefficient of
Slope (95% confidence interval)
Leaf number-stem length
落叶 Deciduous 60 0.192 0.510 (0.404, 0.645) 0.238
常绿 Evergreen 25 0.279 0.463 (0.323, 0.662) 0.415
Leaf area ratio-stem slender ratio
落叶 Deciduous 60 0.613 -0.867 (-1.021, -0.737) 4.525
常绿 Evergreen 25 0.620 -0.791 (-1.028, -0.608) 4.175
Density of leaf number-stem slender ratio
落叶 Deciduous 60 0.617 -0.804 (-0.945, -0.684) 1.115
常绿 Evergreen 25 0.781 -0.717 (-0.876, -0.587) 1.106
Leaf/stem mass ratio-stem slender ratio
落叶 Deciduous 60 0.629 -0.869 (-1.019, -0.741) 2.231
常绿 Evergreen 25 0.823 -0.613 (-0.734, -0.512) 1.859
Leaf area ratio-stem length
落叶 Deciduous 60 0.628 -0.973 (-1.141, -0.829) 3.955
常绿 Evergreen 25 0.683 -0.939 (-1.195, -0.738) 3.679
Density of leaf number-stem length
落叶 Deciduous 60 0.741 -0.902 (-1.030, -0.789) 0.587
常绿 Evergreen 25 0.787 -0.852 (-1.038, -0.699) 0.657
Leaf/stem mass ratio-stem length
落叶 Deciduous 60 0.614 -0.974 (-1.146, -0.828) 1.660
常绿 Evergreen 25 0.852 -0.729 (-0.859, -0.618) 1.474
Total leaf area-stem dry mass
落叶 Deciduous 60 0.437 0.815 (0.670, 0.991) 0.504
常绿 Evergreen 25 0.439 0.722 (0.526, 0.992) 0.502

Fig. 2

Relationship between leaf number per twig and current-year twig stem length."

Fig. 3

Relationship between the density of leaf number and stem slender ratio (A) and stem length (B)."

Fig. 4

Relationship between the leaf/stem mass ratio and stem slender ratio (A) and stem length (B)."

Table 2

Stem and leaf functional traits of different life forms in Qingliang Moutain (mean ± SE)"

性状 Trait 常绿 Evergreen 落叶 Deciduous 显著水平 Significant value, p
茎纤细率 Stem slender ratio (cm·cm-1) 41.80 ± 3.98 46.87 ± 2.80 0.318
茎直径 Stem diameter (cm) 0.18 ± 0.01 0.18 ± 0.01 0.887
茎长度 Stem length (cm) 6.77 ± 0.62 8.01 ± 0.50 0.158
茎干质量 Stem mass (mg) 112.03 ± 11.72 132.50 ± 13.22 0.352
总叶干质量 Total leaf mass (mg) 853.32 ± 74.69 840.87 ± 62.55 0.909
叶密度指数 Leaf density index (No.·cm-1) 1.20 ± 0.20 0.76 ± 0.06 0.007
叶面积比 Leaf area ratio (cm2·g-1) 1β081.71 ± 146.01 1β573.41 ± 130.10 0.030
单叶面积 Individual leaf area (cm2) 16.21 ± 1.97 34.66 ± 2.34 <0.001
总叶面积 Total leaf area (cm2) 95.19 ± 10.34 163.68 ± 11.69 0.001
比叶面积 Specific leaf area (cm2·g-1) 114.31 ± 6.89 200.76 ± 4.42 <0.001
叶茎质量比 Leaf/stem mass ratio (mg·mg-1) 9.14 ± 0.99 7.96 ± 0.66 0.335
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