Chin J Plant Ecol ›› 2019, Vol. 43 ›› Issue (10): 863-876.DOI: 10.17521/cjpe.2019.0174

Special Issue: 青藏高原植物生态学:群落生态学

• Research Articles • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Response of leaf traits of common broad-leaved woody plants to environmental factors on the eastern Qinghai-Xizang Plateau

YANG Ji-Hong,LI Ya-Nan,BU Hai-Yan,ZHANG Shi-Ting,QI Wei()   

  1. State Key Laboratory of Grassland and Agro-Ecosystems, School of Life Sciences, Lanzhou University, Lanzhou 730000, China
  • Received:2019-07-08 Accepted:2019-10-02 Online:2019-10-20 Published:2020-02-24
  • Contact: QI Wei
  • Supported by:
    the National Natural Science Foundation of China(31770448);the National Natural Science Foundation of China(31600329);the National Key R&D Program of China(2017YFC0504800);the National Key R&D Program of China(2018YFD0502400)


Aims Leaf trait-environment relationships are critical for predicting the effects of climate change on plants. Our objective was to reveal the response of leaf traits of common broad-leaved woody plants to environmental factors on the eastern Qinghai-Xizang Plateau. Methods We measured 15 leaf traits of 332 species from 666 populations collected at 47 sites on the eastern Qinghai-Xizang Plateau. We investigated the extent of leaf trait variation in this area, and explored the response and adaptation strategies of leaf traits to environment at intra- and inter-species levels. Important findings Traits related to leaf size exhibited relatively high variation, and the leaf area was the most variant trait. Most leaf traits were significantly associated with elevation, except stomatal density. Climatic factors were important drivers of leaf trait variation because they explained 3.3%-29.5% of leaf trait variation. Meantime, temperature had the highest interpretation degree of leaf trait variation, and sunshine hours could explain the variation of most leaf traits. However, the interpretation degree of precipitation was relatively weak. In addition, the significant relationships between leaf traits and environmental (altitude and climatic) factors at intra-species level were far less than at inter-species levels. The reason for the result may be the coordinated variation and trade-off between plant traits, which make the variation of intra-species traits relatively small, and thus weaken the correlation between intra-plant leaf traits and environmental factors. Overall, leaf traits were closely related to woody plant adaptation strategies to the environment, and small, thick leaves and short petioles were selected for high-altitude plants to adapt to harsh environments such as strong winds and low temperature.

Key words: leaf morphological trait, stomatal trait, altitude, climatic factor, environmental factor