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Scaling relationships of twig biomass allocation in Pinus hwangshanensis along an altitudinal gradient.

ABSTRACT: Understanding the response of biomass allocation in twigs (the terminal branches of current-year shoots) to environmental change is crucial for elucidating forest ecosystem carbon storage, carbon cycling, and plant life history strategies under a changing climate. On the basis of interspecies investigations of broad-leaved plants, previous studies have demonstrated that plants respond to environmental factors by allocating biomass in an allometric manner between support tissues (i.e., stems) and the leaf biomass of twigs, where the scaling exponent (i.e., slope of a log-log linear relationship, ?) is constant, and the scaling constant (i.e., intercept of a log-log linear relationship, log ?) varies with respect to environmental factors. However, little is known about whether the isometric scaling exponents of such biomass allocations remain invariant for single species, particularly conifers, at different altitudes and in different growing periods. In this study, we investigated how twig biomass allocation varies with elevation and period among Pinus hwangshanensis Hsia trees growing in the mountains of Southeast China. Specifically, we explored how twig stem mass, needle mass, and needle area varied throughout the growing period (early, mid-, late) and at three elevations in the Wuyi Mountains. Standardized major axis analysis was used to compare the scaling exponents and scaling constants between the biomass allocations of within-twig components. Scaling relationships between these traits differed with growing period and altitude gradient. During the different growing periods, there was an isometric scaling relationship, with a common slope of 1.0 (i.e., ? ? 1.0), between needle mass and twig mass (the sum of the total needle mass and the stem mass), whereas there were allometric scaling relationships between the stem mass and twig mass and between the needle mass and stem mass of P. hwangshanensis. The scaling constants (log ?) for needle mass vs. twig mass and for needle mass vs. stem mass increased progressively across the growing stages, whereas the scaling constants of stem mass vs. twig mass showed the opposite pattern. The scaling exponents (?) of needle area with respect to needle biomass increased significantly with growing period, changing from an allometric relationship (i.e., ? < 1.0) during the early growing period to a nearly isometric relationship (i.e., ? ? 1.0) during the late growing period. This change possibly reflects the functional adaptation of twigs in different growing periods to meet their specific reproductive or survival needs. At different points along the altitudinal gradient, the relationships among needle mass, twig mass, and stem mass were all isometric (i.e., ? ? 1.0). Moreover, significant differences were found in scaling constants (log ?) along the altitudinal gradient, such that species had a smaller stem biomass but a relatively larger needle mass at low altitude. In addition, the scaling exponents remained numerically invariant among all three altitudes, with a common slope of 0.8, suggesting that needle area failed to keep pace with the increasing needle mass at different altitudes. Our results indicated that the twig biomass allocation pattern was significantly influenced by altitude and growing period, which reflects the functional adaptation of twigs to meet their specific survival needs under different climatic conditions.

PROVIDER: S-EPMC5446166 | BioStudies |

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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