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Table of Content
    Volume 47 Issue 12
    20 December 2023
    The critically endangered plant Abies beshanzuensis, with its trunk and bark, branchlet, leaves (Photos from the Dendrological Atlas project archives, Zs. DEBRECZY - I. RACZ), pollen cones and cones (Photographed by CHEN Xiao-Rong). Currently, there are only three mature A. beshanzuensis living in the wild. It is a nationally protected first-class plant species and is listed among the 12 most endangered plant species globally. Abies beshanzuensis holds si [Detail] ...
    Review of research on germination heterochrony of desert annual plants
    Dilixiadanmu TASHENMAIMAITI, LIU Hui-Liang
    Chin J Plant Ecol. 2023, 47 (12):  1611-1628.  doi:10.17521/cjpe.2022.0336
    Abstract ( 493 )   Full Text ( 106 )   PDF (1928KB) ( 344 )   Save
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    Desert annuals develop their special germination time pattern under severe environmental conditions, called germination heterochrony. It refers to the phenomenon that under specific conditions, a portion of the sibling seed population with uniform morphology can germinate instantly, while the other portion remains in the seed bank. Most existing studies on germination heterochrony of desert annuals have focused on seed germination characteristics, post-germination traits, and reproductive allocation. We reviewed and analyzed recent advances in germination heterochrony research, with emphases on 1) conception of germination heterochrony; 2) species and distribution of annual plants with heterochronous germination; 3) effects of heterochronous germination on plant life history types and patterns; 4) differences in phenotypic response, such as survival rate, phenological characteristics, reproductive yield, and biomass allocation, among plants that germinate at different times; 5) biological and environmental factors of germination heterochrony. Based on the review of literature, the future research is expected to contribute to a deeper understanding of germination heterochrony and adaptive mechanisms of desert annuals.

    Research Articles
    Species delimitation and genetic conservation of the endangered firs Abies beshanzuensis and A. ziyuanensis
    YANG Ling, LIANG Si-Qi, PAN Jia-Ming, WEI Jin-Xin, DING Tao, JIANG Ri-Hong, SHAO Yi-Zhen, ZHANG Xian-Chun, LIU Yong-Bo, XIANG Qiao-Ping
    Chin J Plant Ecol. 2023, 47 (12):  1629-1645.  doi:10.17521/cjpe.2022.0295
    Abstract ( 477 )   Full Text ( 76 )   PDF (2657KB) ( 217 )   Save
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    Aims “Species” is the basic taxonomical unit in biology. The accuracy of endangered species delimitation largely determines the efficiency and conservation strategies. Abies beshanzuensis, A. ziyuanensis and A. dayuanensis, a group of endangered firs endemic to the subtropical region of China, have extremely small populations and controversial taxonomy. According to morphological differences and geographical distribution, A. dayuanensis has been considered as the synonym of A. ziyuanensis, whereas A. ziyuanensis is currently treated as a variety of A. beshanzuensis. However, no genetic evidence has been provided to test this classification hypothesis.
    Methods We performed target enrichment sequencing on 23 individuals from eight extant populations and obtained 805 single nucleotide polymorphic sites from 60 single-copy nuclear genes for population genetic analyses.
    Important findings Results of population genetic structure and demographic history analyses showed that this endangered fir group has diverged into two lineages corresponding to A. beshanzuensis and A. ziyuanensis. Abies ziyuanensis first diverged from the common ancestor of A. beshanzuensis and A. dayuanensis, the latter two split apart later and more closely related, forming the other lineage. The genetic diversity is low within these populations. Strong genetic differentiation was found among populations (fixation index, FST = 0.083-0.208). Gene flow is not detected after lineages split, probably because of the fragmented habitats which blocked effective genetic exchanges among populations. Ecological niche comparison showed that the average annual temperature and the temperature of the coldest quarter were significantly higher in the habitats of these endangered firs compared to those of non-threatened firs in East Asia. Therefore, we inferred that global warming is likely to push this group of endangered firs to the edge of extinction. According to the significant population differentiation, we provide genetic evidence that A. dayuanensis is a synonym of A. beshanzuensis, and resurrect A. ziyuanensis as a separate species. Based on the niche comparison results, we highlight the necessity to carry out ex suit conservation in the Hengduan Mountains and the Qingling-Bashan Mountains and conduct in suit regeneration.

    Altitudinal patterns of nutrient limiting characteristics of Abies fargesii var. faxoniana forest based on leaf and soil enzyme stoichiometry in western Sichuan, China
    HE Xi, FENG Qiu-Hong, ZHANG Pei-Pei, YANG Han, DENG Shao-Jun, SUN Xiao-Ping, YIN Hua-Jun
    Chin J Plant Ecol. 2023, 47 (12):  1646-1657.  doi:10.17521/cjpe.2022.0449
    Abstract ( 342 )   Full Text ( 74 )   PDF (3508KB) ( 230 )   Save
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    Aims Nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) nutrient availability is a key factor governing forest productivity and carbon sequestration. However, scientific knowledge on the nutrient limitation in forest ecosystems under variable environments is still lacked. The mountain ecosystems, characterized by the dramatical changes in multiple environmental factors along increasing altitude such as climate, vegetation and soil properties, provide a natural experiment platform for understanding forest nutrient limitation and its drivers.
    Methods In this study, we examined the nutrient limitation of a typical subalpine coniferous forest (Abies fargesii var. faxoniana forest) along an altitudinal gradient (from 2 850 m to 3 200 m) in the southeastern Qingzang Plateau, by simultaneous detection of above-ground leaf N, P status and underground microorganisms extracellular stoichiometry, and analyzing the changes of forest nutrient limitation and the main driving factors along the altitude.
    Important findings The results showed that: 1) as altitude increases, the concentration of leaf N and P decreased, while leaf N:P increased from 12.33 to 15.00, indicating a shift from N limitation to N-P co-limitation and an enhancement of P limitation with increasing altitude. (2) Vector model analysis showed that the vector angles of microbial extracellular enzyme stoichiometry were all exceed 45° at different altitudes, and as altitude increases, the vector angle showed an increasing trend, indicating that microorganisms were limited by P and the P limitation increases with altitude. (3) Temperature is the dominant factor driving nutrient limitation of Abies fargesii var. faxoniana forest. Collectively, both leaf and soil microbial nutrient evidence indicated that an enhancement of P limitation in subalpine coniferous forests with increasing altitudes in western Sichuan. This finding could provide an important theoretical basis for guiding forest nutrient adaptive management in subalpine coniferous ecosystems under the scenarios of global climate change.

    Diameter structure and quantitative characteristics of dominant tree species in warm temperate deciduous broadleaf forest plot in Huangguan of Qinling Mountains, China
    HE Chun-Mei, LI Yu-Shan, YIN Qiu-Long, JIA Shi-Hong, HAO Zhan-Qing
    Chin J Plant Ecol. 2023, 47 (12):  1658-1667.  doi:10.17521/cjpe.2023.0132
    Abstract ( 296 )   Full Text ( 46 )   PDF (1120KB) ( 194 )   Save
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    Aims Four dominant tree species in Huangguan of the Qinling Mountains, China, were chosen for a detailed examination of their diameter structures and quantitative characteristics. This investigation sought to elucidate the survival status of these populations, offering essential insights for their conservation and management.
    Methods We conducted a comprehensive analysis of the population characteristics of these four dominant tree species by mapping their diameter structure, constructing static life tables, and fitting survival and mortality curves. We employed a time sequence analysis model to predict the population’s future development.
    Important findings The analysis of diameter distribution revealed that the number of individuals for Quercus aliena var. acutiserrata, Pinus tabuliformis and Pinus armandii populations decreased with increasing diameter at breast height (DBH). These populations exhibited abundant juvenile stages, indicating robust natural regeneration ability. In contrast, the diameter structure of the Castanea mollissima population followed a “normal” distribution, with fewer juvenile individuals and a stable structure in later life stages. For this population, the survival rate of individuals with small diameter is crucial for renewal and development. It is inferred that seed retention in the Castanea mollissima population is mainly affected by animal feeding and human activities, subsequently impacting population renewal. Therefore, a deeper understanding of seed retention in Castanea mollissima population is necessary. Monitoring the growth of individuals with small diameter is essential to improve their survival rate and overall quality. The survival curves of Quercus aliena var. acutiserrata, Pinus tabuliformis and Pinus armandii primarily conformed to the Deevey-II type, indicating a predominance of juvenile individuals but also a higher mortality rate among them. The distinct survival conditions among these three dominant populations reflected differences in their survivorship abilities. Overall, juvenile individuals predominated in the entire population, but the growth and survival of individuals were influenced by biotic and abiotic factors in their surroundings. This study provides a comprehensive portrayal of the population characteristics of dominant tree species in Qinling Mountains, offering valuable data for further investigations into population development effects.

    Effects of biocrusts on surface roughness and seed secondary dispersal of shrubs and grasses on the Loess Plateau, China
    ZHANG Xue, HAN Feng-Peng, XIAO Bo, SHEN Si-Ming
    Chin J Plant Ecol. 2023, 47 (12):  1668-1683.  doi:10.17521/cjpe.2023.0072
    Abstract ( 221 )   Full Text ( 40 )   PDF (3626KB) ( 94 )   Save
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    Aims In order to determine whether biocrusts enhance or impede the secondary dispersal of shrub and grass seeds and identify the key factors that influence seed dispersal, we simulated the process of seed secondary dispersal and measured relevant indicators such as the surface roughness of biocrusts.
    Methods On the Loess Plateau, we established experimental plots on biocrusts (cyanobacteria- and moss- dominated crusts) and bare soils from aeolian sand and loess soil. For each selected plot, we utilized oblique photogrammetry to measure the surface roughness in both dry and wet conditions. All the treatments were studied in three replicates. Six species seeds of shrubs and grasses (Caragana korshinskii, Hedysarum scoparium, Artemisia ordosica, Setaria viridis, Xanthium sibiricum, and Bidens pilosa) with different morphological characteristics were selected for secondary dispersal experiments, and their seed displacement ratio (SDR), seed loss ratio (SLR), as well as seed displacement distance (SDD), were calculated following the experiments. The Spearman correlation analysis was then performed to identify the dominant factors.
    Important findings (1) When compared with bare soils, the surface roughness of cyanobacteria- and moss-dominated crusts on aeolian sand soil increased by 6.69 and 6.13 times and by 2.52 and 1.45 times on loess soil, respectively. (2) Within contrast to wet conditions, the surface roughness of biocrusts increased by 26.56% on dry aeolian sand soil, whereas it reduced by 9.42% on dry loess soil. (3) The surface roughness of biocrusts of the aeolian sand soil rose by 16.84% under dry conditions and decreased by 16.38% under wet conditions compared with that on loess soil. (4) In comparison to bare soils, the SDR, SLR, and SDD of biocrusts dropped by 77.1%, 95.4%, and 72.2% on aeolian sand soil and by 76.5%, 93.8%, and 66.8% on loess soil, respectively. The characteristics of seed dispersal were not significantly affected by soil types or soil water conditions. (5) The SDR, SLR, and SDD were all significantly and negatively correlated with the surface roughness of biocrusts. However, only the SDR and SLR were significantly negatively linked to soil water content, and only the SLR and SDD were significantly negatively correlated with seed density. To summarize, biocrusts obstruct dispersal and enhance aggregation of seeds by increasing land surface roughness, thereby impacting the spatial structures and community dynamics of shrubs and grasses.

    Characteristics of population structure and dynamics in endangered Camellia granthamiana
    LIN Chun-Hui, GU Hui-Yi, YE Qin-Liang, ZHANG Zhi-Jian, ZHONG Zhi-Ming, YI Qi-Fei
    Chin J Plant Ecol. 2023, 47 (12):  1684-1692.  doi:10.17521/cjpe.2022.0488
    Abstract ( 319 )   Full Text ( 38 )   PDF (1130KB) ( 169 )   Save
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    Aims The study investigated the population structure of wild Camellia granthamiana, and examined its regeneration processes and grwoth development, for purpose of guiding conservation and sustainable utilization of the species.
    Methods The structure and dynamics of two populations of C. granthamiana in Zijin, Guangdong, were studied with a static life table, dynamic indices, survival curves, population function curves, and the method of time sequence prediction.
    Important findings 1) The two populations of C. granthamiana displayed pyramidal structures with high proportion of young individuals; the young individuals (I to II age class) of the Luzizhang and Yangmeiba populations accounted for 71.48% and 64.32% of the total, respectively, with a high mortality rate. 2) The survival curves of the two populations tended to be in the form of Deevey-II, indicating that the mortality rates in different age classes were similar. 3) The numerical dynamic index ignoring the external interference (Vpi) and that accounting for the external interference (V′pi) are both greater than zero in the two populations, with V′pi approaching zero, suggesting unstable population growth. The Yangmeiba population was relatively more stable. 4) The survival function analysis shows that the survival rate and cumulative mortality of the two populations reached a balance between the age classes of I to II; after the age class of V, the survival curve changed slightly, and limited number of individuals began to enter the physiological decline stage. 5) It is predicted that the number of individuals in each age class will increase in different degrees after 2, 4, 6 and 8 age classes in the future. In summary, the mortality rate of young individuals in the population of C. granthamiana is high, but there is still a certain potential for renewal. In the field investigation, it was found that the human disturbance had a great impact on the population of C. granthamiana. Therefore, for conservation and sustainable utilization of the natural populations of this endangered species, cutting should be strictly prohibited, and both ex situ and in situ protections of the seedlings are advisable.

    Nitrogen addition affects growth and functional traits of Machilus pauhoi seedlings from different provenances
    AN Fan, LI Bao-Yin, ZHONG Quan-Lin, CHENG Dong-Liang, XU Chao-Bin, ZOU Yu-Xing, ZHANG Xue, DENG Xing-Yu, LIN Qiu-Yan
    Chin J Plant Ecol. 2023, 47 (12):  1693-1707.  doi:10.17521/cjpe.2022.0301
    Abstract ( 326 )   Full Text ( 46 )   PDF (1429KB) ( 196 )   Save
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    Aims Nitrogen (N) is an important nutrient element affecting plant growth, biomass allocation and functional trait strategies. Revealing the ecological responses of different provenances to N deposition can help elucidate the adaptation mechanisms of plant species.
    Methods In this study, Machilus pauhoi seedlings from 6 provenances in Wanmulin, Fujian Province (WML), Mangdang Mountain, Fujian Province (MDS), Suichuan, Jiangxi Province (SC), Jiande, Zhejiang Province (JD), Chaling, Hunan Province (CL) and Anfu, Jiangxi Province (AF) were selected as our study objects. By setting two treatments of fertilization and no fertilization, we investigated the effects of N addition, provenance and their interactions on biomass allocation and functional traits of M. pauhoi seedlings.
    Important findings 1) Nitrogen addition significantly promoted total biomass accumulation and the relative growth rate of M. pauhoi seedlings, with the greatest response observed for JD seedlings. However, the effect of N addition on biomass allocation varied by provenance, with JD and AF seeding showing increased leaf mass fraction, and WML and AF seedlings showing increased leaf stem ratio. 2) The effects of N addition on leaf traits of seedlings also varied by provenance. N application significantly reduced the specific leaf area of JD, CL and AF seedlings, but increased the leaf area and leaf N:phosphorus (P) of CL seedling. 3) The response of major functional traits of fine roots to N addition also varied by provenance. N addition significantly decreased the average root diameter and root tissue density of SC, JD and AF seedlings, but increased the root tissue density of WML seedling, the specific root length of MDS and JD seedlings, and the specific surface area of SC and JD seedlings. N addition significantly increased the fine root N content of AF seedling, but decreased the fine root P content of WML, MDS and SC seedlings, and the fine root N:P of all provenances were significantly higher in fertilization treatments than in the control. 4) We observed higher phenotypic plasticity in fine root and biomass-related phenotypes than in leaf traits among different provenances, with the highest phenotypic plasticity in the JD seedling and the lowest phenotypic plasticity in the SC seedling. 5) Structural equation modeling showed that N addition and provenance had significant effects on the growth of M. pauhoi seedlings, with N addition influencing growth by affecting leaf stem ratio and leaf N:P, and provenance influencing growth by affecting specific leaf area and fine root surface area. The growth, biomass and functional traits of M. pauhoi seedlings from different provenances have different ecological adaptation strategies to N addition. Among them, JD seedlings is more adaptable to changes in the external environment, which may account for its long-term adaptation to the provenance environment. Our results provide a theoretical basis for the selection of optimal provenance of M. pauhoi in subtropical regions of China that affected by N deposition.

    Gender dimorphism in nutritional resource requirements of dioecious tree species Rhamnus schneideri var. manshurica
    Chin J Plant Ecol. 2023, 47 (12):  1708-1717.  doi:10.17521/cjpe.2022.0470
    Abstract ( 264 )   Full Text ( 30 )   PDF (1179KB) ( 160 )   Save
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    Aims To provide theoretical references for sex-specific resource requirement and utilization strategies of dioecious plants, we investigated the gender differences and dynamic changes of leaf element contents in male and female plants of Rhamnus schneideri var. manshurica at different stages of reproduction.
    Methods Both male and female R. schneideri var. manshurica were selected from a permanent fixed monitoring sample plot of 23.76 hm2 in a natural mixed coniferous and broadleaf forest in Jiaohe, Jilin. Foliar nutrient (nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), potassium (K), calcium (Ca), magnesium (Mg), ferrum (Fe), and boron (B)) contents of each plant during five reproductive stages from 2019 to 2021 were determined and compared. The flower and fruit biomass of male and female plants were calculated for each reproduction stage. Differences in flower and fruit biomass between male and female plants at each stages of reproduction were tested using ANOVAs. Furthermore, we analyzed the mechanism underlying the occurrence and dynamics of gender differences in foliar nutrient elements of male and female plants.
    Important findings (1) Gender differences in foliar nutrient contents of male and female R. schneideri var. manshurica were significant only at certain reproductive stages. During the 2019 flower period, there were no significant differences in foliar elemental contents between male and female plants. During the 2021 flower period, P content in female leaves was significantly lower than that of male plants. During the fruit period, foliar P and K content of female plants was significantly less than that of male plants. In contrast, foliar N, P, K, Ca, Mg, Fe and B contents of female plants were significantly greater than male plants in the 2020 fruit period. During the 2021 fruit period, foliar P, K, and Mg contents in female plants was significantly greater than male plants. (2) Flower biomass and flower number of male plants were significantly greater than female plants during flower periods in both 2019 and 2021. (3) At the fruiting stage, the order of fruit number and fruit biomass of female plants was 2020 fruit period > 2021 fruit period > 2019 fruit period. There were gender differences in foliar nutrient contents, which were expressed differently at different stages of reproduction. During the flower period, there was no significant difference in leaf element content between male and female plants, indicating that male plants do not increase leaf element content stores due to high reproductive inputs during heavy flowering. However, during the fruit period, foliar nutrient contents in female plants was influenced by reproductive activities, and the increase in nutrient stocks in more fruit-bearing years contributed to the more pronounced sex difference in nutrient contents. Our results suggest that the degree of sexually dimorphic expression of nutrient content in male and female R. schneideri var. manshurica may be influenced and limited by the reproductive stages, and that the greater reproductive resource inputs of female, the more pronounced sexually dimorphic expression.

    Photochemical reaction of photosystem II in diatoms under phosphorus starvation and its response to high light intensity
    LIU Hai-Yan, ZANG Sha-Sha, ZHANG Chun-Xia, ZUO Jin-Cheng, RUAN Zuo-Xi, WU Hong-Yan
    Chin J Plant Ecol. 2023, 47 (12):  1718-1727.  doi:10.17521/cjpe.2022.0448
    Abstract ( 189 )   Full Text ( 35 )   PDF (1352KB) ( 126 )   Save
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    Aims As the ocean warms, the upper mixed layer becomes shallower, increasing nutrient limitation and sunlight exposure for diatoms. The photosynthetic yield of diatoms was affected by the dual stress of high light and nutrient limitation. This study mainly explored the photophysiological regulation of diatoms in response to phosphorus starvation and high light stress to further understand the effects of marine environmental changes on diatom photosynthesis.
    Methods We cultured the two different-sized diatom species Thalassiosira pseudonana and T. weissflogii under the condition of phosphorus starvation to monitor the changes of photosystem II (PSII) function and to investigate their photophysiological responses to high light.
    Important findings Under the condition of phosphorus starvation, the PSII activity of smaller T. pseudonana gradually declined, the electron transport efficiency from plastoquinone QA- which binds to D2 protein to plastoquinone QB which binds to D1 protein descended. Thus, the energy captured for electron transport per unit reaction center decreased, and the non-photoquenched was induced, while the PSII activity of larger T. weissflogii could be maintained for a longer time; T. pseudonana had higher value of PSII photoinactivation cross section (σi) under phosphorus sufficient condition than T. weissflogii, which was prone to photoinhibition and exhibited a higher repair rate for PSII. Phosphorus starvation had no significant effect on its sensitivity to photoinhibition, while T. weissflogii had significantly higher σi under phosphorus starvation condition, and its tolerance to high light intensity was significantly reduced. Under the condition of nutrient limitation and increased light exposure, the larger T. weissflogii may tend to distribute in the lower euphotic layer. In summary, this study suggests that marine environmental changes may change the niche of diatoms with different cell sizes and affect their contribution to primary production.

    Non-additive effect of mixed decomposition of maize and potato straw
    CHEN Lin-Kang, ZHAO Ping, WANG Ding, XIANG Rui, LONG Guang-Qiang
    Chin J Plant Ecol. 2023, 47 (12):  1728-1738.  doi:10.17521/cjpe.2022.0339
    Abstract ( 230 )   Full Text ( 43 )   PDF (1903KB) ( 119 )   Save
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    Aims The mixed decomposition of organic residues is crucial to the material cycle in terrestrial ecosystems. This study focuses on the decomposition process of mixed straw in farmland ecosystems.
    Methods In this study, a 6-month litter bag experiment on the decomposition of maize (Zea mays) straw, potato (Solanum tuberosum) straw and maize-potato mixed straw was set up in maize monoculture, potato monoculture and maize-potato intercropping plots respectively. Biolog-Eco microplate method was applied to evaluate the microbial carbon metabolic activity as influenced by straw type and decomposition environment.
    Important findings The results showed that the mixture of potato straw and maize straw resulted in a synergistic effect on the decomposition process. The decomposition rate and microbial metabolic activity of mixed straw were higher than those of single straw type, which facilitated the utilization of carbohydrate and carboxylic acid substrates by microorganisms. Such synergistic effect is weakened over time. Random Forest and structural equation modeling showed that soil dissolved organic carbon, nitrate nitrogen, ammonium nitrogen contents and straw carbon to nitrogen ratio were key factors driving straw decomposition. In general, straw decomposition is promoted by straw mixing.

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