Title End of season carbon supply status of woody species near the treeline in western China
Author/s Peili Shi, Körner Christian, Günter Hoch
Year 2006
Journal Basic and Applied Ecology 7:370-377
Abstract As trees and shrubs approach the high elevation tree limit, it is often assumed that they fall short in photosynthate (source limitation). Alternatively, low temperature may restrict carbon investment (growth, sink limitation). The content of mobile non-structural carbohydrates (NSC) in tissues is considered a measure of the carbon source–sink balance. To test the source vs. sink limitation hypothesis, we compared late-season NSC concentrations of various woody taxa across altitudinal gradients from the subalpine forest to the treeline at the eastern edge of the Tibetan Plateau. Since we were interested in the generality of trends, we present «community»trends across four taxa, namely Quercus aquifolioides, Abies faxoniana, Rhododendron fabri subsp. prattii and Sorbus rufopilosa. NSC concentrations increased significantly with altitude in branch wood, current-year and last-year leaves, while there were no significant trends in stem sapwood and root xylem. The sugar to starch ratio was roughly 1:1 in branches and evergreen leaves, while stems and roots showed a higher starch fraction. Analyses of total nitrogen in leaves and wood tissues indicated no change in the trees’ nitrogen supply with elevation. The overall altitudinal trends of NSC in this group of woody plant species revealed no depletion of carbon reserves near the tree limit, suggesting that sink limitation predominates woody plant life across this treeline ecotone community.
Keywords treeline ecotone · non-structural carbohydrates · altitudinal gradient · growth limitation
Contact Günter Hoch: email | webpage