Chin J Plant Ecol ›› 2021, Vol. 45 ›› Issue (12): 1281-1291.DOI: 10.17521/cjpe.2020.0319

Special Issue: 植物功能性状

• Research Articles •     Next Articles

Canopy mechanical abrasion between adjacent plants influences twig and leaf traits of Tsuga chinensis assemblage in the Mao’er Mountain

TAN Yi-Bo1,2,*(), TIAN Hong-Deng1,2, ZENG Chun-Yang3, SHEN Hao1,2, SHEN Wen-Hui1,2, YE Jian-Ping4, GAN Guo-Juan5   

  1. 1Guangxi Forestry Research Institute, Nanning 530002, China
    2Guangxi Lijiangyuan Forest Ecosystem Research Station, Guilin, Guangxi 541316, China
    3Guangxi Forest Inventory & Planning Institute, Nanning 530011, China
    4Management Office of Guangxi Mao’er Mountain Nature Reserve, Guilin, Guangxi 541001, China
    5School of Environment and Life Science, Nanning Normal University, Nanning 530001, China
  • Received:2020-08-11 Accepted:2021-09-23 Online:2021-12-20 Published:2021-12-13
  • Contact: TAN Yi-Bo
  • Supported by:
    Guangxi Natural Science Foundation(2017GXNSFAA198102);Guangxi Science and Technology Project(GXSTPAB1850011)


Aims Mechanical abrasion is an important ecological process in the adjacent plant canopy bordering area, which can significantly influence the physiological and morphological characteristics of branches and leaves. However, there is a lack of in-depth research on the characteristics and trade-off mechanisms of the mechanical abrasion on neighboring plant canopies in branches and leaves from the perspective of functional traits.

Methods This study focused on the Tsuga chinensis from the Mao’er Mountain in Guangxi, China. The leaf area, length, and width, as well as the leaf area of the dominant and inferior branches were compared between adjacent canopy layers in mechanical abrasion zones and nonmechanical abrasion zones. Differences in leaf thickness, specific leaf area, leaf dry matter content and leaf dry mass, terminal twig water content, and twig diameter were also analyzed. Moreover, variation and trade-off relationship between branch and leaf functional traits under the influence of mechanical abrasion were evaluated.

Important findings Mechanical abrasion significantly affected the leaf dry matter content, specific leaf area, and leaf dry mass of adjacent canopy leaves. Specifically, the leaf dry matter content of the dominant branches in the mechanical abrasion zone was significantly greater than that in the inferior branches and nonmechanical abrasion zone. Moreover, the specific leaf area of the dominant branches was significantly lower than that of the inferior branches and nonmechanical abrasion areas, whereas the leaf dry mass of the inferior branches was significantly lower than that of the dominant branches and nonmechanical abrasion area. Noteworthy, mechanical abrasion was found to differently influence the relationship between branches and leaves in terms of functional traits. Leaf area- leaf length showed a consistent positive relationship in the mechanical abrasion zone dominant branches, inferior branch, and the nonmechanical abrasion zone. Leaf area-leaf width, leaf area-leaf dry mass, leaf width-leaf thickness, leaf length-leaf width, and leaf thickness-terminal twig diameter were only significantly positively correlated within dominant branches in the mechanical abrasion zone. Leaf area-terminal twig diameter and terminal twig diameter-terminal twig water content were only significantly negatively correlated in the inferior branches. Moreover, leaf dry matter content-leaf thickness was only significantly positively correlated in the inferior branches. Other traits did not show a significant relationship in the dominant branch, inferior branch, and nonmechanical abrasion zone. These results indicate that canopy mechanical abrasion between forest plant neighbors can significantly change the trade-off relationship between branches and leaves regarding to functional traits.

Key words: neighbor canopy, competition, twig and leaf trade-off, mechanical abrasion, twig and leaf traits