Plant Diversity ›› 2011, Vol. 33 ›› Issue (2): 214-224.DOI: 10.3724/SP.J.1143.2011.10159

• Articles • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Effects of Altitude on Photosynthetic Gas Exchange and the Associated Leaf Trait in an Alpine Oak, Quercus guyavifolia (Fagaceae)

 ZHANG  Shi-Bao-1, ZHOU  Zhe-Kun-1、2, XIU  Kun-2   

  1. 1 Key Laboratory of Tropical Plant Ecology, Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden, Chinese Academy of Sciences,
    Kunming 650223, China;2 Kunming Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Kunming 650204, China
  • Received:2010-09-15 Online:2011-04-25 Published:2010-12-15
  • Supported by:

    The National Natural Science Foundation of China (30770226) and West Light Foundation of Chinese Academy of Sciences


Understanding the pattern and process governing the distribution is a central goal of ecology, yet for many species the causes of distribution limit are unknown. To understand the relationship between altitudinal distribution of alpine oak and ecophysiological trait, leaf nitrogen content, chlorophyll content, leaf mass per unit area and photosynthetic gas exchange of Quercus guyavifolia were investigated at four sites along an altitudinal gradient from 2650 to 3920m in the Hengduan Mountains. Q.guyavifolia showed a significant midday depression in photosynthesis and transpiration at all sites due to high vapour pressure deficit and temperature. Both in May and August, this species had higher light-saturated photosynthesis, water use efficiency, maximum RuBP rate of carboxylation, light saturated rate of electron transport and photosynthetic nitrogen use efficiency at the middle altitude than at the lowest or highest location. Leaf nitrogen content was different in May among altitudes, but remained relatively constant in August. Leaf thickness increased with altitude while chlorophyll content and photosynthetic optimum temperature decreased. The altitudinal trend in photosynthesis of Q.guyavifolia could be linked to leaf biochemical efficiency and nitrogen content, but not leaf mass per unit area. The variation in temperature along the altitudinal gradient imposed a constraint on photosynthesis and leaf trait. The altitudinal range from 3180m to 3610m would be optimal for the photosynthetic carbon gain and growth of Q.guyavifolia.

Key words: Quercus guyavifolia, Photosynthesis, Chlorophyll fluorescence, Leaf traits, Alpine environment, Ecological adaptation

CLC Number: