Chin J Plant Ecol ›› 2018, Vol. 42 ›› Issue (11): 1094-1102.DOI: 10.17521/cjpe.2018.0140

• Research Articles • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Variations of root traits in three Xizang grassland communities along a precipitation gradient

ZHOU Wei1,LI Hong-Bo2,*(),ZENG Hui1   

  1. 1School of Urban Planning and Design, Shenzhen Graduate School, Peking University, Shenzhen 518055, China
    2Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101, China
  • Received:2018-06-11 Accepted:2018-10-16 Online:2018-11-20 Published:2019-03-13
  • Contact: Hong-Bo LI
  • Supported by:
    Supported by the National Key R&D Program of China(2016YFC0501802)


Aims Root functional traits and their variations mediate coexistence and adaptive strategy of plant species. Yet, strong environmental constraints may induce convergence of root traits among different plant species. To study the variations of root traits and clarify the diverse adaptive strategies across plant species, we sampled three alpine grasslands along a precipitation gradient in the Xizang Plateau.
Methods In three grassland communities along a precipitation gradient: Nagqu, Baingoin and Nyima from east to west of Xizang Plateau, we collected 22 coexisting plant species and measured three key root traits: 1st-order root diameter, 1st-order lateral root length and root branch intensity.
Important findings The main results showed that: (1) the root of plants in the alpine grassland was generally thin, and the interspecific variation was also small (22.76%); (2) the root diameter of 86% plant species was in the range from 0.073 mm to 0.094 mm. Compared with the thick-root species, thin-root species had a higher root branching intensity, but shorter lateral root length. In addition, at community-level, plants mainly increased root diameter and lateral root length, but reduced root branching intensity to adapt to the decreasing precipitation; while at species-level, the plant species exhibited diverse adaptive strategies along the precipitation gradient.

Key words: trait variation, adaptive strategy, root branching, root diameter, root length, alpine grassland