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Net Assimilation Rate Determines the Growth Rates of 14 Species of Subtropical Forest Trees


Li, Xuefei; Schmid, Bernhard; Wang, Fei; Paine, C E Timothy (2016). Net Assimilation Rate Determines the Growth Rates of 14 Species of Subtropical Forest Trees. PLoS ONE, 11(3):e0150644.

Abstract

Growth rates are of fundamental importance for plants, as individual size affects myriad ecological processes. We determined the factors that generate variation in RGR among 14 species of trees and shrubs that are abundant in subtropical Chinese forests. We grew seedlings for two years at four light levels in a shade-house experiment. We monitored the growth of every juvenile plant every two weeks. After one and two years, we destructively harvested individuals and measured their functional traits and gas-exchange rates. After calculating individual biomass trajectories, we estimated relative growth rates using nonlinear growth functions. We decomposed the variance in log(RGR) to evaluate the relationships of RGR with its components: specific leaf area (SLA), net assimilation rate (NAR) and leaf mass ratio (LMR). We found that variation in NAR was the primary determinant of variation in RGR at all light levels, whereas SLA and LMR made smaller contributions. Furthermore, NAR was strongly and positively associated with area-based photosynthetic rate and leaf nitrogen content. Photosynthetic rate and leaf nitrogen concentration can, therefore, be good predictors of growth in woody species.

Abstract

Growth rates are of fundamental importance for plants, as individual size affects myriad ecological processes. We determined the factors that generate variation in RGR among 14 species of trees and shrubs that are abundant in subtropical Chinese forests. We grew seedlings for two years at four light levels in a shade-house experiment. We monitored the growth of every juvenile plant every two weeks. After one and two years, we destructively harvested individuals and measured their functional traits and gas-exchange rates. After calculating individual biomass trajectories, we estimated relative growth rates using nonlinear growth functions. We decomposed the variance in log(RGR) to evaluate the relationships of RGR with its components: specific leaf area (SLA), net assimilation rate (NAR) and leaf mass ratio (LMR). We found that variation in NAR was the primary determinant of variation in RGR at all light levels, whereas SLA and LMR made smaller contributions. Furthermore, NAR was strongly and positively associated with area-based photosynthetic rate and leaf nitrogen content. Photosynthetic rate and leaf nitrogen concentration can, therefore, be good predictors of growth in woody species.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
590 Animals (Zoology)
Language:English
Date:8 March 2016
Deposited On:13 Sep 2016 13:08
Last Modified:02 Feb 2018 10:22
Publisher:Public Library of Science (PLoS)
ISSN:1932-6203
OA Status:Gold
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0150644

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