Chin J Plant Ecol ›› 2021, Vol. 45 ›› Issue (3): 253-264.DOI: 10.17521/cjpe.2020.0352

• Research Articles • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Effects of needle age on leaf traits and their correlations of Pinus koraiensis across different regions

ZHANG Zi-Yan1,2, JIN Guang-Ze1,2, LIU Zhi-Li1,2,*()   

  1. 1Center for Ecological Research, Northeast Forestry University, Harbin 150040, China
    2and Key Laboratory of Sustainable Forest Ecosystem Management— Ministry of Education, Northeast Forestry University, Harbin 150040, China
  • Received:2020-10-26 Accepted:2021-01-29 Online:2021-03-20 Published:2021-05-17
  • Contact: LIU Zhi-Li
  • Supported by:
    National Natural Science Foundation of China(31971636);Special Foundation for National Science and Technology Basic Resources Investigation of China(2019FY202300);Young Elite Scientists Sponsorship Program by CAST(2018QNRC001)


Aims Leaf age is an important factor affecting trait variation during ontogenetic development of plants. The variation of traits across a gradient of leaf ages can reflect the response of plants to environmental changes. Our aim was to investigate the variation of needle morphological traits of Pinus koraiensis at different needle ages and the influence of latitude and needle age on the correlation of morphological traits.
Methods In this study, adult Korean pine (Pinus koraiensis) of four mixed broadleaved-Korean pine forests in northeast China was selected as the research object. We measured the leaf lifespan, as well as specific leaf area (SLA), leaf dry matter content (LDMC), needle density (ND) and needle volume (NV) of needles at different ages. The correlation between morphological traits of pine leaves was discussed and the effects of latitude and needle age on these correlations were examined.
Important findings (1) Leaf lifespan of P. koraiensis significantly varied with latitudes, and showed a unimodal pattern with increasing latitude. (2) Needle age accounted for the largest proportion (34.2%-80.1%) in trait variations, and had a significant influence on all the four leaf morphological traits. SLA, LDMC and ND of the current year leaves showed higher plasticity than other age classes, while NVshowed high plasticity at all age classes. (3) Most of these trait-trait correlations were significant at different latitudes, while the patterns of slopes of the regression lines among traits did vary across the latitudinal gradient. (4) The correlations among traits within different needle ages classes were all significant, but showing different patterns across needle ages. For example, the regression slope of SLA and NDdecreased with the increase of needle age, while the regression slope of ND and NV was opposite. The results showed that the variation and correlation of morphological traits were significantly influenced by latitude and needle age, the collaboration among these traits responded to the environmental changes at different latitudes, and the resource utilization strategies of needles were different in different ages.

Key words: Pinus koraiensis, needle age, latitude, specific leaf area, plasticity