Chin J Plant Ecol ›› 2018, Vol. 42 ›› Issue (5): 573-584.DOI: 10.17521/cjpe.2018.0041

• Research Articles • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Effects of leaf nutrient concentration and resorption on leaf falling time of dominant broadleaved species in a montane region of eastern Liaoning Province, China

SHEN Ao1,2,3,ZHU Jiao-Jun1,2,*(),YAN Tao1,2,3,LU De-Liang1,2,3,YANG Kai1,2   

  1. 1 Key Laboratory of Forest Ecology and Management, Institute of Applied Ecology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shenyang 110016, China
    2 Qingyuan Forest Chinese Ecosystem Research Network, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shenyang 110016, China
    3 University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
  • Received:2018-02-12 Revised:2018-05-09 Online:2018-05-20 Published:2018-07-20
  • Contact: Jiao-Jun ZHU
  • Supported by:
    Supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China.(31330016);Supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China.(31570600)


Aims Litter is an important source of nutrient in forest ecosystems, and its decomposition rate has a significant impact on soil nutrient supply. Previous observations indicated that different leaf falling time resulted in different litter decomposition rates. We found that the leaf falling time of Quercus mongolica was later than that of other tree species, especially in the barren soil. However, it is not yet clear why the leaves of Q. mongolica fall later. We hypothesized that the leaves of Q. mongolica had higher nutrient concentration, and longer time for resorption, which could lead to the later time of leaf falling.

Methods We continuously measured N, P, K, Ca, Mg, Cu, Fe, Mn and Zn concentrations in leaves of three tree species (Q. mongolica, the leaf falling time is the last; Juglans mandshurica, the leaf falling time is the earliest, Acer mono, the leaf falling time is in between Q. mongolica and J. mandshurica) from leaf maturity (August) to litter fall (October) in a montane region of eastern Liaoning Province. We analyzed leaf nutrient concentrations and resorption efficiencies of each species.

Important findings The nutrient concentrations in mature leaves of Q. mongolica are similar to those of other tree species. N, P and K concentrations in the litter of Q. mongolica were significantly lower than those of other species (p < 0.05), and the resorption efficiencies were generally consistent with the leaf falling time. These findings did not support the hypothesis that leaves of Q. mongolica have higher nutrient concentrations than other species. The resorption efficiencies of N, P and K did not influence leaf nutrient concentrations, but were directly related to the biological characteristics of tree species. The leaves of Q. mongolica fall later, which might be due to the high adaptability of Q. mongolica to the barren soil. Although the mature leaves could not accumulate more nutrients from barren soil, they increased the nutrient use efficiency by prolonging the nutrient resorption time. We inferred that leaves with higher nutrient resorption efficiency would fall later, because of greater nutrient storage such as Q. mongolica, which is better adapted to barren soil than other tree species. On the contrary, trees with lower nutrient resorption efficiency generally grow better in the fertile soil, such as J. mandshurica.

Key words: nutrient concentration in leaf, nutrient resorption efficiency, leaf falling time, broadleaved species