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Table of Content
    Volume 40 Issue 8
    10 August 2016

    The landscape is a snow-covered alpine meadow in Mt. Kaka, the eastern Qinghai-Xizang Plateau (Photographed by ZHOU Yu). GAO et al. studied the variation and correlation of plant heights, leaf traits, and biomass allocations of three ephemerals under different snow cover thicknesses by standardized major axis estimation (SMA). Authors emphasized the allometric relationship between above- and below-ground biomass with different snow cover thickness, and illuminated the respo

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    Research Articles
    Relationship between ecosystem multifuntionality and species diversity in grassland ecosystems under land-use types of clipping, enclosure and grazing
    Jing-Peng LI, Zhi-Rong ZHENG, Nian-Xi ZHAO, Yu-Bao GAO
    Chin J Plant Ecol. 2016, 40 (8):  735-747.  doi:10.17521/cjpe.2015.0457
    Abstract ( 1775 )   Full Text ( 36 )   PDF (4356KB) ( 3217 )   Save
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    Aims Over the past twenty years, most biodiversity and ecosystem functioning (BEF) research has focused on the effects of species diversity on single or just a few ecosystem functions. However, ecosystems are primarily valued for their ability to maintain multiple functions and services simultaneously (i.e. multifunctionality here- after). This paper first introduced the constantly perfected concept of “multifunctionality”, and then tried to make some modifications to the current mainstream quantitative method in order to evaluate the multifunctionality of grassland communities with the management of clipping, enclosure and grazing in Inner Mongolia, investigating the relationship between the multifunctionality and species diversity. Methods In free grazing grassland, four sites were set and each site was divided into two parts to conduct enclosure and clipping management respectively. After seven years, 15 quadrats (1 m × 1 m) were established for each type of management in each site (total 60 quadrats for each type) using the regular arrangement method; as a control, we also established 20 quadrats (two sites) in grazing grassland. For each quadrat, we carried out plants census and collected soil mixture sample, measuring 16 soil variables, and then calculated the biodiversity indices and multifunctionality index (M-index) by means of factor analysis. Important findings The results showed that M-indexes by the two evaluation methods were strongly correlated at both quadrat and site scale, suggesting that our modified method was reliable. Over-grazed communities had the lowest biodiversity indices and their most soil indicators were also low, showing obvious degradation features. Enclosure and clipping communities (seven years) had higher biodiversity and better soil indicators. The rank of M-indexes was clipping community (0.2178) > enclosure community (0.0704) > grazing community (-0.8031). The vegetation was distributed mainly along the gradients of water and fertility. Among the biodiversity indices, evenness (Pielou) index and richness (Margelf) index were most strongly correlated with multifunctionality, and their explanatory power (R2) for M-index were higher at site scale (R2 = 0.5921, p = 0.0093; R2 = 0.7499, p = 0.0007) than at quadrat scale (R2 = 0.1871, p < 0.0001; R2 = 0.1601, p < 0.0001), indicating study scale played an important role in the determinants of multifunctionality. At both quadrat and site scales, M-indexes is a linear positive function with species evenness and a hump-shaped function of species richness. Therefore, in contrast to enclosure, clipping was more conducive to maintain the ecosystem multifunctionality in this region, and the ecosystem with moderate specie richness, where these species are evenly distributed might have better multifunctionality.

    Effects of grazing intensity and grazing exclusion on litter decomposition in the temperate steppe of Nei Mongol, China
    Li-Li YANG, Ji-Rui GONG, Yi-Hui WANG, Min LIU, Qin-Pu LUO, Sha XU, Yan PAN, Zhan-Wei ZHAI
    Chin J Plant Ecol. 2016, 40 (8):  748-759.  doi:10.17521/cjpe.2016.00051
    Abstract ( 995 )   Full Text ( 5 )   PDF (3879KB) ( 1558 )   Save
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    Aims Grazing intensity and grazing exclusion affect ecosystem carbon cycling by changing the plant community and soil micro-environment in grassland ecosystems. The aims of this study were: 1) to determine the effects of grazing intensity and grazing exclusion on litter decomposition in the temperate grasslands of Nei Mongol; 2) to compare the difference between above-ground and below-ground litter decomposition; 3) to identify the effects of precipitation on litter production and decomposition. Methods We measured litter production, quality, decomposition rates and soil nutrient contents during the growing season in 2011 and 2012 in four plots, i.e. light grazing, heavy grazing, light grazing exclusion and heavy grazing exclusion. Quadrate surveys and litter bags were used to measure litter production and decomposition rates. All data were analyzed with ANOVA and Pearson’s correlation procedures in SPSS. Important findings Litter production and decomposition rates differed greatly among four plots. During the two years of our study, above-ground litter production and decomposition in heavy-grazing plots were faster than those in light-grazing plots. In the dry year, below-ground litter production and decomposition in light-grazing plots were faster than those in heavy-grazing plots, which is opposite to the findings in the wet year. Short-term grazing exclusion could promote litter production, and the exclusion of light-grazing could increase litter decomposition and nutrient cycling. In contrast, heavy-grazing exclusion decreased litter decomposition. Thus, grazing exclusion is beneficial to the restoration of the light-grazing grasslands, and more human management measures are needed during the restoration of heavy-grazing grasslands. Precipitation increased litter production and decomposition, and below-ground litter was more vulnerable to the inter-annual change of precipitation than above-ground litter. Compared to the light-grazing grasslands, heavy-grazing grasslands had higher sensitivity to precipitation. The above-ground litter decomposition was strongly positively correlated with the litter N content (R2 = 0.489, p < 0.01) and strongly negatively correlated with the soil total N content (R2 = 0.450, p < 0.01), but it was not significantly correlated with C:N and lignin:N. Below-ground litter decomposition was negatively correlated with the litter C (R2 = 0.263, p < 0.01), C:N (R2 = 0.349, p < 0.01) and cellulose content (R2 = 0.460, p < 0.01). Our results will provide a theoretical basis for ecosystem restoration and the research of carbon cycling.

    Stoichiometric characteristics of carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus in Phyllostachys edulis forests of China
    Man-Yi DU, Shao-Hui FAN, Guang-Lu LIU, Huan-Ying FENG, Bao-Hua GUO, Xiao-Lu TANG
    Chin J Plant Ecol. 2016, 40 (8):  760-774.  doi:10.17521/cjpe.2015.0464
    Abstract ( 1288 )   Full Text ( 6 )   PDF (754KB) ( 1668 )   Save
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    Aims Stoichiometric ratios of carbon (C), nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) are important characteristics of the ecological processes and functions. Studies on population ecological stoichiometry can refine the content of flora chemometrics, determine the limited nutrient, and provide data for process-based modeling over large scale. Phyllostachys edulis is an important forest type, whose area accounts for 74% of total bamboo forest area in Southern China. However, little is known about the ecological stoichiometric in P. edulis. This study aimed to reveal C:N, C:P and N:P stoichiometry characteristics of the “plant-soil-litter” continuum and to provide a better understanding nutrient cycling and stability mechanisms in P. edulis forest in China. Methods The data were collected from the published literature containing C、N、P content in leaf or surface soil (0-20 cm) or littefall in P. edulis forests. Important findings 1) The leaf C, N, P content were estimated at 478.30 mg·g-1, 22.20 mg·g-1, 1.90 mg·g-1 in P. edulis, and the corresponding C: N, C: P and N: P were 26.80, 299.60 and 14.40, respectively. Soil C, N, and P content in 0-20 cm were 21.53 mg·g-1, 1.66 mg·g-1, 0.41 mg·g-1, with ratios of 14.20 for C:N, 66.74 for C:P and 4.28 for N:P. The C, N and P contents were 438.49 mg·g-1, 13.39 mg·g-1, 0.86 mg·g-1 for litterfall, with the litter C:N, C:P and N:P being 25.53, 665.67, 22.55, respectively. 2) In the plant-soil-litter system in P. edulis forest, leaf had higher C:N, litter had higher C:P and N:P, while soil were the lowest. The N, P resorption rate was 39.68% and 54.74%, indicating that P. edulis forest growth and development was constrained by P or by both of N and P in China. 3) N content and N:P in leaf showed a tendency to increase with latitude, while the C:N of leaf declined with latitude. N:P of leaf increased with longitude, but the P content and the C:N of leaf showed a opposite trend. C: N of soil increased with longitude, whereas the N content of soil declined longitude. The N content of litter declined with longitude. 4) The leaf N content was negatively correlated with mean annual temperature and mean annual precipitation, but being more sensitive to temperature than precipitation. The positive correlations between N content and latitude support “Temperature-Plant Physiological” hypothesis, reflecting an adaptive strategy to environmental conditions.

    Plant leaf traits, height and biomass partitioning in typical ephemerals under different levels of snow cover thickness in an alpine meadow
    Jing GAO, Jin-Niu WANG, Bo XU, Yu XIE, Jun-Dong HE, Yan WU
    Chin J Plant Ecol. 2016, 40 (8):  775-787.  doi:10.17521/cjpe.2015.0288
    Abstract ( 1126 )   Full Text ( 15 )   PDF (938KB) ( 1673 )   Save
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    Aims In the cold life zones, snow cover is a comprehensive environmental factor that directly influences soil temperature, soil water content, light and nutrient availability. Plants in these zones develop a series of unique mechanisms involving phenological characteristics, reproductive strategies, physiology and morphology to adapt to environmental changes. This paper is focused on the responses of plant leaf traits, height and biomass partitioning to variations in snow cover thickness, in order to better understand the responses of plant functional traits and specific adaptation strategies under global climate change scenarios. Methods Three transects were established along a gradient of snow cover in an alpine meadow of Mt. Kaka, in the eastern Qinghai-Xizang Plateau. Primula purdomii, Pedicularis kansuensis and Ranunculus tanguticus, which are three widely distributed and dominant ephemerals, were sampled and studied, particularly at their blooming stages. Plant height, specific leaf area (SLA) and biomass partitioning were measured accordingly. Important findings The values of SLA in Pedicularis kansuensis and R. tanguticus were relatively greater under better soil conditions; it was smaller in Primula purdomii with thick snow cover. The relationship between aboveground biomass and belowground biomass in Primula purdomii was allometric at sites with both thick and thin snow cover. No significant relationships were found between aboveground biomass and belowground biomass in Pedicularis kansuensis and R. tanguticus at some individual sites. However, when samples of the three species were pooled, the relationships between aboveground biomass and belowground biomass were allometric at all sites, which did not support isometric scaling hypothesis. In addition, on sites with either thick or thin snow cover, aboveground biomass had greater rate of accumulation than belowground biomass; whereas on sites with medium snow cover, the rate of biomass accumulation was greater for belowground component than aboveground component. Functional traits and biomass variables were better correlated in Primula purdomii and Pedicularis kansuensis than in R. tanguticus.

    Trade-off between leaf size and vein density of Achnatherum splendens in Zhangye wetland
    Ling HAN, Cheng-Zhang ZHAO, Ting XU, Wei FENG, Bei-Bei DUAN, Hui-Ling ZHENG
    Chin J Plant Ecol. 2016, 40 (8):  788-797.  doi:10.17521/cjpe.2016.0003
    Abstract ( 1012 )   Full Text ( 9 )   PDF (1196KB) ( 1823 )   Save
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    Aims Trade-offs between leaf size and vein density are the basis of the theory of leaf economics spectrum, and are to understand the relationship between the physical build and physiological metabolism of plant leaves under different degrees of competition for resources. Our objective was to study the changes in the relationship between leaf size and vein density (leaf dry biomass and leaf area) in Achnatherum splendens populations with four plant bundle densities located in the flood plain wetland of Zhangye. Methods The study site was located at floodplain wetlands of Zhangye, Gansu Province, China. Survey and sampling were carried out in the communities that A. splendens dominated. According to the plant bundle density, the A. splendens communities were divided into four density gradients with “bundle” for the sampling units, high density (I, > 12 bundle·m-2), medium density (II, 8-12 bundle·m-2), medium density (III, 4-8 bundle·m-2) and Low density (IV, <4 bundle·m-2). According to the density of each combination, we chose seven (5 m × 5 m) A. splendens samples, resulting in a total of 28 samples (4 × 7). The soil physical and chemical properties of four density gradients were investigated and six samples of A. splendens were used to measure the leaf area, leaf dry biomass and vein density in laboratory, and biomass of different organs was measured after being dried at 85 °C in an oven. 28 plots were categorized into three groups: high, medium and low density, and the standardized major axis (SMA) estimation method was used to examine the allometric relationships between leaf area, leaf dry biomass and vein density. Important findings The results showed that with the population density changed from high, medium, to low, the soil moisture decreased, and soil electric conductivityincreased. The leaf area, leaf biomass and height of A. splendens decreased, and the vein density, specific leaf area and photosynthetically active radiation (PAR) increased gradually. In addition, leaf net photosynthetic rate (Pn), transpiration rate (Tr) and twig number firstly increased then decreased. There was a highly significantly negative correlation (p < 0.01) between the leaf size and vein density on the high- and low-level densities (I, IV), whereas less significant (p < 0.05) on the level of medium density (II, III). The SMA slope of regression equation in the scaling relationships between leaf size and vein density was significantly smaller than -1 (p < 0.05).

    Ultrasonic based investigation on particle size distribution and retention efficiency of particulate matters retained on tree leaves—Taking Ginkgo biloba and Pinus tabuliformis as examples
    Jin-Qiang LIU, Zhi-Guo CAO, Huan-Huan LIU, Shao-Wei ZHANG, Li-Ming JIA, Zhong-Kui JIA, Ben-Ye XI
    Chin J Plan Ecolo. 2016, 40 (8):  798-809.  doi:10.17521/cjpe.2016.0100
    Abstract ( 1019 )   Full Text ( 4 )   PDF (1431KB) ( 1130 )   Save
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    Aims On the basis of conventional cleaning method (washing + brushing), this study aims to verify the effect of ultrasonic cleaning on quantitative evaluation of particulate matters with various particle sizes retained on tree leaves, and further to investigate the size distribution and retention efficiency of these particulate matters, which will help to improve the accuracy of quantitative assessment of the retention ability of urban trees to atmospheric particles. Methods Ginkgo biloba and Pinus tabuliformis as examples of broadleaf and conifer species, leaf samples were collected 4 days (short dust retention period) and 14 days (long dust retention period) after the rain (rainfall >15 mm), and then particles retained on these leaves were collected by the means of washing (WC), brushing (BC) and ultrasonic cleaning (UC). Further, the quality and size distribution of the particulate matters eluted at each wash step were determined to assess the retention efficiency of tree leaves to particulate matter with various particle sizes. Important findings Taking the result of “washing + brushing + ultrasonic cleaning” process as a reference, with only washing process, the retention amount of PM1 (particulate diameter d ≤ 1 µm), PM2.5 (d ≤ 2.5 µm), PM5 (d ≤ 5 µm) and PM10 (d ≤ 10 µm) on G. biloba and P. tabuliformis leaves would be underestimated by around 50% (54%, 53%, 53% and 53%) and 40% (42%, 42%, 42% and 42%), respectively; under washing and brushing protocols, the dust retention capacity of G. biloba and P. tabuliformis were still undervalued by about 15% (17%, 16%, 15% and 15%) and 20% (21%, 20%, 20% and 20%), respectively. Size distribution of particulate matters retained on P. tabuliformis showed bimodal curves, whereas the particulate matters retained on G. biloba exhibited unimodal size distribution. However, the average particle size of particulate matters on G. biloba leaves were greater than that on P. tabuliformis leaves in both short (G. biloba: 1.68 μm; P. tabuliformis: 1.16 μm) and long (G. biloba: 1.51 μm; P. tabuliformis: 1.19 μm) dust retention periods. The retention efficiency of P. tabuliformis to PM1, PM2.5, PM5, PM10 and total suspended particulate (TSP) were 8.96, 23.92, 23.96, 23.96 and 23.96 mg·m-2·d-1, respectively, higher than that of G. biloba by 112%, 73%, 34%, 37% and 42%, respectively.

    Water relations and photosynthetic characteristics in different functional groups of epiphytic lichens in montane forest of Ailaoshan
    Tao HU, Su LI, Shuai LIU, Wen-Yao LIU, Xi CHEN, Liang SONG, Quan CHEN
    Chin J Plant Ecol. 2016, 40 (8):  810-826.  doi:10.17521/cjpe.2015.0445
    Abstract ( 1076 )   Full Text ( 4 )   PDF (1516KB) ( 1489 )   Save
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    Aims There are abundant epiphytic lichens in the tropical and subtropical montane forest ecosystems, which are important components of forest canopy and play a vital role in biodiversity conservation, environmental monitoring and nutrient cycling. In accordance with photobiont type, growth form and reproductive strategy, the epiphytic lichens can be divided into different functional groups, with different distribution patterns. In this study we aim to explain this phenomenon from the perspective of physiological ecology. Methods The maximum water content, water loss curves, photosynthetic water and light response curves were determined in four epiphytic lichen functional groups, including cyanolichens, fruticose lichens, broadly lobed foliose lichens and narrowly lobed foliose lichens. Important findings The functional characteristics of epiphytic lichens influence their maximum water-holding capacity and rate of water loss. The cyanolichens have higher maximum water content, while the fruticose lichens have a faster water loss. The cyanolichens that are widely distributed in the moist habitats require particularly high moisture for their photosynthetic activities; their optimal water content for photosynthesis is higher in comparison with other groups. They also have a low light compensation point and a high light saturation point, which explain the wide range of light intensity of the habitat. The fruticose lichens, widely distributed in the relatively arid habitats with high irradiance, have high light compensation point and light saturation point, and low optimum water content for photosynthesis. The broadly lobed foliose lichens and the narrowly lobed foliose lichens have a high light compensation point and light saturation point; they preferably occur in habitats with strong light.

    Differential effects of diurnal asymmetric and symmetric warming on yield and water utilization of soybean
    Dan WANG, Yun-Zhou QIAO, Bao-Di DONG, Jing GE, Ping-Guo YANG, Meng-Yu LIU
    Chin J Plant Ecol. 2016, 40 (8):  827-833.  doi:10.17521/cjpe.2015.0439
    Abstract ( 967 )   Full Text ( 6 )   PDF (3570KB) ( 1228 )   Save
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    Aims Global warming does not mean similar warmer temperatures between daytime and nighttime. Soybean (Glycine max) is a widely planted legume crop around the world and an important food crop in China. The aim of this study was to understand the responses of soybean growth and water utilization to future asymmetric warming, which would provide scientific reference for evaluating the adaptation of soybean to the future climate scenarios.Methods This experiment was carried out in artificial climate chambers, using the method of potted plants, under three temperature conditions; contrast (CON, 26 °C during the day and 16 °C during night), symmetric warming (ETs, elevated temperature of 3 °C both during the day and night), asymmetric warming (ETa, elevated temperature of 2 °C during the day and elevated temperature of 4 °C during night). We investigated the differential effects of diurnal asymmetric and symmetric warming on the yield and water consumption of soybean. Important findings The results revealed that, under the background of 26 °C during the day and 16 °C during night: 1) the effect of ETs on soybean yields showed no significant function that mainly benefit from the increase in the amount of biomass to ease negative influence of decrease in the harvest index. ETa reduced yields of soybean by 38.9% (p < 0.05) due to both significant decrease in harvest index and yield components (pod number per plant, grain number per pod and 100-grain weight). 2) ETs showed no obvious effect on the whole growing stage evapotranspiration (ET) of soybean, while ETa reduced the whole growing stage ET by 14.8% (p < 0.05). 3) The effect of the two warming pattern on water consumption of soybean were not significant. The difference in water consumption was mainly derived from the difference in transpiration (T). ETs and ETa reduced total transpiration by 10.7% (p < 0.05) and 26.1% (p < 0.05), respectively. In conclusion, our results suggest that ETs will underestimate the detrimental effects of real climate warming (ETa) on the growth and yield of soybean, and overestimate the effects on water consumption of soybean.

    Mechanisms of xylem embolism repair in woody plants: Research progress and questions
    Ying JIN, Chuan-Kuan WANG, Zheng-Hu ZHOU
    Chin J Plan Ecolo. 2016, 40 (8):  834-846.  doi:10.17521/cjpe.2016.0118
    Abstract ( 1874 )   Full Text ( 15 )   PDF (1159KB) ( 2054 )   Save
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    To maintain long-distance water transport in woody plants is critical for their survival, growth and development. Water under tension is in a metastable state and prone to cavitation and embolism, which leads to loss of hydraulic conductance, reduced productivity, and eventually plant death. In face to water stress-induced cavitation, plants either reduce frequency of embolism occurrence through cavitation resistance with specialized anatomical struc- ture, or/and form a metabolically active embolism repair mechanism. For the xylem embolism and repair, however, there are controversies regarding the occurring frequency, conditions and underlying mechanisms. In this review paper, we first examined the process, temporal dynamics and frequency of xylem embolism and repair. Then, we summarized hypotheses for the mechanisms of the novel refilling in xylem embolism repair, including the osmotic hypothesis, the reverse osmotic hypothesis, the phloem-driven refilling hypothesis, and the phloem unloading hypothesis. We further compared differences in xylem embolism and repair between conifers and angiosperms tree species, and examined the trade-offs between cavitation resistance and xylem recovery performance. Finally, we proposed four priorities in future research in this field: (1) to improve measuring technology of xylem embolism; (2) to test hypotheses for the mechanisms of the novel refilling in xylem embolism repair and the signal triggering xylem refilling; (3) to explore species-specific trait differences related to xylem embolism and repair and their underlying trade-off relationships; and (4) to enhance studies on the relationship between the involvement of carbon metabolism and aquaporins expression in xylem embolism and repair.

    Research progress on leaf mass per area
    Ming-Xiu LIU, Guo-Lu LIANG
    Chin J Plan Ecolo. 2016, 40 (8):  847-860.  doi:10.17521/cjpe.2015.0428
    Abstract ( 2131 )   Full Text ( 42 )   PDF (3754KB) ( 3191 )   Save
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    Leaf mass per area (LMA) is a composite structural parameter as well as a basic leaf functional trait in the leaf economics spectrum (LES). It is not only closely related to many physiological responses of plants, but also can measure the investment of dry mass per unit of light-intercepting leaf area. LMA is considered an important indicator of plant ecological strategies and has been studied widely in plant ecology, agronomy, forestry, and plant physiology. This paper elucidates the structural analysis and computational methods of LMA at the organizational scales of whole leaf, tissues and cells, examines the influence of LMA on photosynthesis, and discusses the inherent differences in LMA and the responses of LMA to environmental stresses (temperature, water and light), aiming for clarifying research frameworks and methods in studies of LMA and providing guidance on future research.

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