Chin J Plant Ecol ›› 2023, Vol. 47 ›› Issue (10): 1386-1397.DOI: 10.17521/cjpe.2022.0469

Special Issue: 植物功能性状

• Research Articles • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Differences in leaf traits and trait correlation networks between karst and non-karst forest tree species

WAN Chun-Yan, YU Jun-Rui, ZHU Shi-Dan()   

  1. State Key Laboratory for Conservation and Utilization of Subtropical Agro-Bioresources, College of Forestry, Guangxi University, Nanning 530004, China
  • Received:2022-11-18 Accepted:2023-03-28 Online:2023-10-20 Published:2023-11-23
  • Contact: * (
  • Supported by:
    National Natural Science Foundation of China(32060330)


Aims This study aims to clarify the differences in ecological strategies between karst and non-karst forest tree species, in terms of leaf morphology and anatomy, hydraulics, and mechanical resistance.

Methods A total of 101 tree species were selected from typical karst and non-karst forests in tropical-subtropical regions. We measured: (1) leaf morphological and anatomical traits including leaf thickness (LT), leaf density (LD), vein density and leaf mass per area (LMA); (2) leaf mechanical traits including force to punch and force to tear (Ft); and (3) leaf hydraulic traits including maximum hydraulic conductance (Kleaf_max), cavitation resistance (P50leaf), turgor loss point (Ψtlp), and stomatal safety margin (HSMtlp). We compared the differences in leaf traits between karst and non-karst forest tree species, and analyzed their traits correlation networks.

Important findings (1) Compared to non-karst forest tree species, on average the karst tree species had greater Ft, higher Kleaf_max, lower (more negative) Ψtlp and HSMtlp. (2) Leaf trait network of karst forest tree species showed shorter average path length and diameter and lower edge density than non-karst forest tree species, indicating that traits combinations were closer in karst forests. (3) Mechanical traits and LMA showed high connectedness in the trait networks of karst forest tree species, LT and LD showed high connectedness in those of non-karst tree species. In karst forest tree species, LMA was positively correlated with Ft and negatively correlated with Ψtlp, indicating that increasing leaf carbon investment can simultaneously enhance meachnical resistance and drought tolerance. However, no such correlations were found in non-karst forest tree species. (4) Across karst forests tree species, we found a significant tradeoff between Kleaf_max and P50leaf, both of which were not related with leaf mechanical resistance, and morphological and anatomical traits. By contrast, there was no hydraulic tradeoff in non-karst forest tree species, and Kleaf_max was significantly correlated with LT and LD. This study further reveals that compared to non-karst forest tree species, karst forest tree species tend to exhibit isohydraulic strategy and show closer coordination among leaf traits.

Key words: morphology, anatomy, hydraulics, mechanical resistance, tropical-subtropical forest, karst