Close association of RGR, leaf and root morphology, seed mass and shade tolerance in seedlings of nine boreal tree species grown in high and low light

P. B. Reich, M. G. Tjoelker, M. B. Walters, Dirk Vanderklein, C. Buschena

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

329 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

1. To test hypotheses concerning adaptation and acclimation of tree species to shaded habitats we determined the growth, biomass partitioning and morphology of seedlings of nine near-boreal tree species in high- and low-light greenhouse environment (25 and 5% of full sunlight, respectively), comparable to sunlit gap and shaded microsites in boreal forests. The species differ widely in shade tolerance, seed size and leaf life span. 2. In low light, all species allocated proportionally more biomass to stems and less to roots, but the same to foliage, compared with the high-light environment. At a common size, all species had finer leaf morphology (higher specific leaf area, SLA) but coarser root morphology (lower specific root length, SRL) in low than high light. From a whole plant perspective, all species enhanced leaf area per unit plant mass (leaf area ratio, LAR) in low light and root length per unit plant mass (root length ratio, RLR) in high light. 3. Shade-intolerant deciduous species had higher RGR, SLA and SRL than larger seeded evergreens: ranking from Populus, Betula and Larix spp., then to five evergreen Pinus, Picea and Thuja spp., which were generally comparable in these traits. There were no changes in growth rankings of species between high- and low-light environments, nor consistent differences among species in biomass partitioning. Hence, species differences in leaf and root morphology (SLA, SRL) drove whole plant patterns, such as Populus, Betula and Larix had greater total leaf area and root length per unit plant mass (LAR and RLR, respectively) than the evergreens. Interspecific variation in RGR in both high and low light was positively correlated (r ≃ 0.9) with SLA, SRL, LAR and RLR, and negatively correlated (r ≃ -0.9) to seed mass and leaf life span. 4. These data suggest that SLA, SRL, NAR and RGR are closely associated with variation in life-history traits and that variation in leaf and root structure more strongly influences patterns of RGR among species and light environments than does biomass partitioning.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)327-338
Number of pages12
JournalFunctional Ecology
Volume12
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - 22 Jul 1998

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shade tolerance
seedling
leaf area
seed
biomass allocation
ranking
leaf morphology
seed size
interspecific variation
life history trait
acclimation
boreal forest
foliage

Keywords

  • Biomass partitioning
  • Leaf life span
  • Relative growth rate
  • Seed mass
  • Shade tolerance
  • Specific leaf area
  • Specific root length

Cite this

@article{8d22b60f929e408ca0444fec75ed7084,
title = "Close association of RGR, leaf and root morphology, seed mass and shade tolerance in seedlings of nine boreal tree species grown in high and low light",
abstract = "1. To test hypotheses concerning adaptation and acclimation of tree species to shaded habitats we determined the growth, biomass partitioning and morphology of seedlings of nine near-boreal tree species in high- and low-light greenhouse environment (25 and 5{\%} of full sunlight, respectively), comparable to sunlit gap and shaded microsites in boreal forests. The species differ widely in shade tolerance, seed size and leaf life span. 2. In low light, all species allocated proportionally more biomass to stems and less to roots, but the same to foliage, compared with the high-light environment. At a common size, all species had finer leaf morphology (higher specific leaf area, SLA) but coarser root morphology (lower specific root length, SRL) in low than high light. From a whole plant perspective, all species enhanced leaf area per unit plant mass (leaf area ratio, LAR) in low light and root length per unit plant mass (root length ratio, RLR) in high light. 3. Shade-intolerant deciduous species had higher RGR, SLA and SRL than larger seeded evergreens: ranking from Populus, Betula and Larix spp., then to five evergreen Pinus, Picea and Thuja spp., which were generally comparable in these traits. There were no changes in growth rankings of species between high- and low-light environments, nor consistent differences among species in biomass partitioning. Hence, species differences in leaf and root morphology (SLA, SRL) drove whole plant patterns, such as Populus, Betula and Larix had greater total leaf area and root length per unit plant mass (LAR and RLR, respectively) than the evergreens. Interspecific variation in RGR in both high and low light was positively correlated (r ≃ 0.9) with SLA, SRL, LAR and RLR, and negatively correlated (r ≃ -0.9) to seed mass and leaf life span. 4. These data suggest that SLA, SRL, NAR and RGR are closely associated with variation in life-history traits and that variation in leaf and root structure more strongly influences patterns of RGR among species and light environments than does biomass partitioning.",
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Close association of RGR, leaf and root morphology, seed mass and shade tolerance in seedlings of nine boreal tree species grown in high and low light. / Reich, P. B.; Tjoelker, M. G.; Walters, M. B.; Vanderklein, Dirk; Buschena, C.

In: Functional Ecology, Vol. 12, No. 3, 22.07.1998, p. 327-338.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

TY - JOUR

T1 - Close association of RGR, leaf and root morphology, seed mass and shade tolerance in seedlings of nine boreal tree species grown in high and low light

AU - Reich, P. B.

AU - Tjoelker, M. G.

AU - Walters, M. B.

AU - Vanderklein, Dirk

AU - Buschena, C.

PY - 1998/7/22

Y1 - 1998/7/22

N2 - 1. To test hypotheses concerning adaptation and acclimation of tree species to shaded habitats we determined the growth, biomass partitioning and morphology of seedlings of nine near-boreal tree species in high- and low-light greenhouse environment (25 and 5% of full sunlight, respectively), comparable to sunlit gap and shaded microsites in boreal forests. The species differ widely in shade tolerance, seed size and leaf life span. 2. In low light, all species allocated proportionally more biomass to stems and less to roots, but the same to foliage, compared with the high-light environment. At a common size, all species had finer leaf morphology (higher specific leaf area, SLA) but coarser root morphology (lower specific root length, SRL) in low than high light. From a whole plant perspective, all species enhanced leaf area per unit plant mass (leaf area ratio, LAR) in low light and root length per unit plant mass (root length ratio, RLR) in high light. 3. Shade-intolerant deciduous species had higher RGR, SLA and SRL than larger seeded evergreens: ranking from Populus, Betula and Larix spp., then to five evergreen Pinus, Picea and Thuja spp., which were generally comparable in these traits. There were no changes in growth rankings of species between high- and low-light environments, nor consistent differences among species in biomass partitioning. Hence, species differences in leaf and root morphology (SLA, SRL) drove whole plant patterns, such as Populus, Betula and Larix had greater total leaf area and root length per unit plant mass (LAR and RLR, respectively) than the evergreens. Interspecific variation in RGR in both high and low light was positively correlated (r ≃ 0.9) with SLA, SRL, LAR and RLR, and negatively correlated (r ≃ -0.9) to seed mass and leaf life span. 4. These data suggest that SLA, SRL, NAR and RGR are closely associated with variation in life-history traits and that variation in leaf and root structure more strongly influences patterns of RGR among species and light environments than does biomass partitioning.

AB - 1. To test hypotheses concerning adaptation and acclimation of tree species to shaded habitats we determined the growth, biomass partitioning and morphology of seedlings of nine near-boreal tree species in high- and low-light greenhouse environment (25 and 5% of full sunlight, respectively), comparable to sunlit gap and shaded microsites in boreal forests. The species differ widely in shade tolerance, seed size and leaf life span. 2. In low light, all species allocated proportionally more biomass to stems and less to roots, but the same to foliage, compared with the high-light environment. At a common size, all species had finer leaf morphology (higher specific leaf area, SLA) but coarser root morphology (lower specific root length, SRL) in low than high light. From a whole plant perspective, all species enhanced leaf area per unit plant mass (leaf area ratio, LAR) in low light and root length per unit plant mass (root length ratio, RLR) in high light. 3. Shade-intolerant deciduous species had higher RGR, SLA and SRL than larger seeded evergreens: ranking from Populus, Betula and Larix spp., then to five evergreen Pinus, Picea and Thuja spp., which were generally comparable in these traits. There were no changes in growth rankings of species between high- and low-light environments, nor consistent differences among species in biomass partitioning. Hence, species differences in leaf and root morphology (SLA, SRL) drove whole plant patterns, such as Populus, Betula and Larix had greater total leaf area and root length per unit plant mass (LAR and RLR, respectively) than the evergreens. Interspecific variation in RGR in both high and low light was positively correlated (r ≃ 0.9) with SLA, SRL, LAR and RLR, and negatively correlated (r ≃ -0.9) to seed mass and leaf life span. 4. These data suggest that SLA, SRL, NAR and RGR are closely associated with variation in life-history traits and that variation in leaf and root structure more strongly influences patterns of RGR among species and light environments than does biomass partitioning.

KW - Biomass partitioning

KW - Leaf life span

KW - Relative growth rate

KW - Seed mass

KW - Shade tolerance

KW - Specific leaf area

KW - Specific root length

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