Chin J Plan Ecolo ›› 2014, Vol. 38 ›› Issue (7): 655-664.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1258.2014.00061

• Research Articles •     Next Articles

Testing of Corner’s rules across woody plants in Tiantong region, Zhejiang Province: effects of individual density

ZHANG Jian-Hong1, SHI Qing-Ru2,3, XU Ming-Shan2,3, ZHAO Yan-Tao2,3, ZHONG Qiang2,3, ZHANG Fu-Jie4, and YAN En-Rong2,3*   

  1. 1Ningbo Academy of Agricultural Science, Ningbo, Zhejiang 315040, China;

    2Department of Environment Science, East China Normal University, Shanghai 200241, China;

    3Tiantong National Forest Ecosystem Observation and Research Station, Ningbo, Zhejiang 315114, China;

    4Forestry Technical Management Service Station, Yinzhou District, Ningbo, Zhejiang 315100, China
  • Received:2014-01-15 Revised:2014-05-09 Online:2014-07-10 Published:2014-07-01
  • Contact: YAN En-Rong


Aims Corner’s rules reflect the architectural strategies of plants with respect to deployment of twig size and leaf size, as well as of the number of twigs and leaves. The objective of this study was to examine how Corner’s rules would vary among plants with different individual densities.
Methods The study site is located in the Tiantong National Forest Park (29.87° N, 121.65° E), Zhejiang Province. We measured twig cross-sectional area (twig size), total leaf area (leaf size per twig), and the number of twigs at a given twig size (branching intensity) in woody plants across 25 plots differing in stem density to examine the effects of individual competition on Corner’s rules. The standardized major axis (SMA) analysis was conducted to determine the quantitative relationships of twig size with leaf size and branching intensity.
Important findings Significant, positive allometric relationships between cross-sectional area and total leaf area were found in individual plants across all communities. There was no significant difference among communities of different density intervals in the slope of the linear regression between cross-sectional area and total leaf area of individual plants, and the common slope of the regressions was significantly greater than 1 (p < 0.001). The intercept was significantly greater for plants in communities with higher density than in those with lower density (p < 0.001), indicating that plants in a high density community support greater total leaf area than in a low density community for a given twig size. In contrast, a significant, negative allometric scaling relationship was found between branching intensity and cross-sectional area in individual plants across different communities. Also, no significant difference was found among plants in communities of different density intervals in the slope of the regression between branching intensity and cross-sectional area, and the common slope of the regressions was significantly less than –1 (p < 0.001). The intercept for the regression relationship between twig area and branching intensity was the same among plants in communities of different density intervals (p > 0.05), suggesting that plants in a high density community do not deploy more twigs per twig size than in a low density community. In summary, this study demonstrated that plants responded to changes in individual density by maintaining an invariant regression slope for the twig size-leaf size relationship and the twig size-branching intensity relationship, and that the Corner’s rules were not affected by individual density of the communities in the Tiantong region. However, changes in the intercept of the regression between twig size and leaf size indicate that deployment strategies between twig and leaf sizes could be adjusted with increasing individual plant competition, thus structuring species coexistence through niche differentiation.

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