Elevation is a complex environmental factor altering temperature, light, moisture and soil nutrient availability, and thus may affect plant growth and physiology. Such effects of elevation may also depend on seasons. Along an elevational gradient of the Balang Mountain, southwestern China, we sampled soil and 2-year old leaves, 2-year old shoots, stem sapwood and fine roots (diameter < 5 mm) of Quercus aquifolioides at 2843, 2978, 3159, 3327, 3441 and 3589 m a.s.l. in both summer and winter. In summer, the concentrations of tissue non-structural carbohydrates (NSC) did not decrease with increasing elevation, suggesting that the carbon supply is sufficient for plant growth at high altitude in the growing season. The concentration of NSC in fine roots decreased with elevation in winter, and the mean concentration of NSC across tissues in a whole plant showed no significant difference between the two sampling seasons, suggesting that the direction of NSC reallocation among plant tissues changed with season. During the growing season, NSC transferred from leaves to other tissues, and in winter NSC stored in roots transferred from roots to aboveground tissues. Available soil N increased with elevation, but total N concentrations in plant tissues did not show any clear elevational pattern. Both available soil P and total P concentrations in all plant tissues decreased with increasing elevation. Thus, tissue N:P ratio increased with elevation, suggesting that P may become a limiting element for plant growth at high elevation. The present study suggests that the upper limit of Q. aquifolioides on Balang Mountain may be co-determined by winter root NSC storage and P availability. Our results contribute to better understanding of the mechanisms for plants' upper limit formation.
|Digital Object Identifier (DOI):||10.1016/j.scitotenv.2017.12.070|
|Codice identificativo Scopus:||2-s2.0-85038839795|
|Titolo:||Elevation alters carbon and nutrient concentrations and stoichiometry in Quercus aquifolioides in southwestern China|
|Appare nelle tipologie:||1.1 Articolo in rivista|