Chin J Plan Ecolo ›› 2014, Vol. 38 ›› Issue (7): 665-674.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1258.2014.00062

• Research Articles • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Testing of corner’s rules across woody plants in Tiantong region, Zhejiang Province: effects of micro-topography

SHI Qing-Ru1,2, XU Ming-Shan1,2, ZHAO Yan-Tao1,2, ZHOU Liu-Li1,2, ZHANG Qing-Qing1,2, MA Wen-Ji1,2, ZHAO Qi3, and YAN En-Rong1,2*   

  1. 1Department of Environment Science, East China Normal University, Shanghai 200241, China;

    2Tiantong National Forest Ecosystem Observation and Research Station, Ningbo, Zhejiang 315114, China;

    3Forestry 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 The size and quantity relationships between twigs and leaves can be used to describe the hydraulic properties of plants in response to environmental stresses. The objective of this study was to examine how twig-leaf relationship would vary with changes in micro-habitat conditions.
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), sub-twig cross-sectional area (sub-twig size), individual leaf area, total leaf area (leaf size per twig), the number of twigs at a given twig size (twig intensity), and the number of leaves at a given twig size (leafing intensity) across individual woody plants on 10 plots in each of the convex and concave habitats within an evergreen broad-leaved forest. The standardized major axis (SMA) analysis was conducted to determine the scaling relationships between twig size and leaf size, between sub-twig size and twig intensity, and between leaf size and leafing intensity.
Important findings Significant, positive allometric relationships between twig cross-sectional area and total leaf area were found in plants in both types of micro-habitats (p < 0.001). There was no significant difference between the two micro-habitats in the slope of the regression between twig cross-sectional area and total leaf area, and the common slope of the regressions was significantly greater than 1 (p < 0.001). The intercept was significantly greater in plants of the concave habitat than in plants of the convex habitat (p < 0.001), indicating that plants in a concave habitat support greater total leaf area at a given twig size than in a convex habitat. Significant, negative allometric scaling relationships were found between twig size and twig intensity in plants in both micro-habitats. There was also no significant difference between the two habitats in the slope of the regression between twig size and twig intensity, and the common slope of the regressions was significantly less than –1 (p < 0.001). The similar intercept in the regression relationship of twig area and twig intensity between the two habitats suggests that plants deploy similar amount of sub-twigs per twig size in both types of habitat. In addition, significant, negative allometric scaling relationships between leaf size and leafing intensity were found to be consistently conserved across micro-habitat types, with the common slope being smaller than –1. A higher value of y-intercept in the scaling relationships of leaf area vs. leafing intensity for plants in the concave habitat indicates that at a given leaf area, more leaves were supported by plants in a concave habitat than in a convex habitat. Overall, plants in a concave habitat tend to deploy more large leaves per twig size than those in a convex habitat. This study demonstrated that both the Corner’s rules and the leaf size-number trade-offs could be generalized to apply at the small local spatial scales. The magnitude and quantitative adjustment of twig-leaf deployment manifests a selection preference of hydraulic properties of plants in coping with changes in water availability between concave and convex habitats.

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