Chin J Plant Ecol ›› 2023, Vol. 47 ›› Issue (5): 733-744.DOI: 10.17521/cjpe.2022.0289

Special Issue: 光合作用 植物功能性状

• Research Articles • Previous Articles    

Variation of leaf thermal traits and plant adaptation strategies of canopy dominant tree species along temperature and precipitation gradients

ZHOU Ying-Ying1,2, LIN Hua1,*()   

  1. 1. CAS Key Laboratory of Tropical Forest Ecology, Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Mengla, Yunnan 666303, China
    2. University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
  • Received:2022-07-12 Accepted:2022-10-10 Online:2023-05-20 Published:2022-10-10
  • Supported by:
    National Natural Science Foundation of China(32171504);National Natural Science Foundation of China(31870386);Ten Thousand Talents Plan of Yunnan(YNWR-QNBJ-2019-191)


Aims Leaf temperature is one of the important microenvironmental parameters for energy exchange and physiological processes of plants. Leaf thermal traits can regulate leaf temperature so as to relieve heat damage to some extent. However, systematic studies on leaf thermal traits are rare.
Methods In the present study, 43 dominant canopy species of four typical vegetation types with varying temperature and precipitation from tropical to temperate zones in Yunnan Province were selected: savanna vegetation, tropical rain forest, subtropical evergreen broadleaf forest, and temperate mixed forest. We selected 23 thermal traits that might have influence on leaf temperature, including leaf morphological, optical, material property, anatomical and physiological traits.
Important findings The results showed that plants in savanna vegetation mainly relied on transpiration for cooling. Savanna species have thin leaves and short life span. They are mainly “quick investment-return” species. Tropical rain forest plants developed large leaves, with low transpiration rates, which have no advantage of leaf cooling. Thick leaves and high water content can alleviate high temperature to some extent. They adopted “slow investment-return” strategy. Subtropical evergreen broadleaf forest was rarely exposed to extreme temperatures. The species had thick leaves, long leaf life span, and adopted “slow investment-return” strategy. They did not show obvious thermal adaptation traits. Temperate mixed forest had small and thick leaves, growing in clusters which provides benefits for thermal insulation. Photosynthetic rate of canopy evergreen plants in this forest was low, adopting “slow investment-return” strategy, while photosynthetic rate of deciduous plants was high, presenting “quick investment-return” characteristics. This study systematically investigated the variation of leaf thermal traits and plant adaptation strategies along temperature and precipitation gradients, providing a theoretical basis for further understanding of plant adaptation to the environment.

Key words: leaf functional trait, leaf economic spectrum, temperature and precipitation gradient, survival strategy