Chin J Plant Ecol ›› 2023, Vol. 47 ›› Issue (11): 1551-1560.DOI: 10.17521/cjpe.2022.0414

• Research Articles • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Comparison on leaf construction cost of different plant groups in the desert area of the Hexi Corridor

ZHAO Zhen-Xian1, CHEN Yin-Ping1,*(), WANG Li-Long2, WANG Tong-Tong1, LI Yu-Qiang2   

  1. 1School of Environment and Municipal Engineering, Lanzhou Jiaotong University, Lanzhou 730070, China
    2Northwest Institute of Eco-Environment and Resources, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Lanzhou 730000, China
  • Received:2022-10-18 Accepted:2023-04-06 Online:2023-11-20 Published:2023-04-20
  • Contact: CHEN Yin-Ping(
  • Supported by:
    National Natural Science Foundation of China(32260316);National Natural Science Foundation of China(31971466)


Aims Leaf construction cost (LCC) is a measure of the energy cost of building leaves per unit mass or area. Its differences and changes can reflect the energy utilization strategies and environmental adaptation characteristics of plants. This study assumes that desert plants of different functional groups have different leaf energy utilization strategies, which are conducive to their adaptation to arid environments.

Methods Taking the main desert plants in the desert area of the Hexi Corridor as the research object, the differences of LCC in different ecosystems and different plant functional groups were compared, and the relationships between LCC and other leaf traits were analyzed, as well as the change of LCC with environmental factors.

Important findings LCC of plant unit mass in this desert ecosystem was significantly lower than that in forest and grassland ecosystems. In desert ecosystems, LCC per unit mass of succulent plants is significantly lower than that of non succulent plants, while LCC per unit area has no significant difference between the two plant groups. The correlations between leaf carbon, nitrogen contents, calorific value and ash content and LCC indicate that ash content is the internal determinant of LCC difference between succulent plants and non succulent plants. The contribution of environmental factors to the spatial variation of unit mass LCC is very limited (11.22% for succulent plants, 25.30% for non succulent plants, and 24.99% for all plants), and only soil conductivity, annual mean air temperature, and annual precipitation among the six environmental factors show significant independent contributions. LCC per unit mass of succulent plants decreases with the decrease of annual average temperature, while LCC per unit mass of non succulent plants decreases with the decrease of annual precipitation and annual mean air temperature. The results of this study show that reducing the cost of leaf construction per unit mass rather than per unit area is more beneficial for plants to adapt to drought and high salt desert habitats.

Key words: leaf construction cost, desert plant, plant functional group, leaf trait, environmental factor