Plant Diversity ›› 2014, Vol. 36 ›› Issue (01): 47-55.

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Biomass Partitioning Affects the Growth of Pinus Species from Different Elevations

 ZHANG  Shi-Bao   

  1. Key Laboratory of Economic Plants and Biotechnology, Kunming Institute of Botany,
    Chinese Academy of Sciences, Kunming 650201, China
  • Online:2014-01-25 Published:2014-12-01


The conifer forests in southwestern China are mainly dominated by three vicariant species within Pinus: P. kesiya var. langbianensis, P. yunnanensis, and P. densata. Their sites range from lower to higher elevations, respectively, and each species shows differences in rates of development, especially with regard to height. To identify the physiological and morphological causes of this inherent variation, photosynthesis, biomass partitioning, growth rates and leaf traits were investigated of plants cultivated under the same environmental conditions. Trees of the species native to the lower elevation were taller, and had higher values for dry weight, relative growth rate (RGR), leaf mass fraction (LMF), stem mass fraction (SMF), and specific leaf area per unit mass (SLA), relative to those from the higher elevations. However, their leaf N and C contents per unit area, and their root mass fraction (RMF), were smaller than those of highelevation trees. Photosynthetic capacity in species from high elevations was not significantly reduced from the level calculated for trees from lower elevations. Both RGR and tree height were positively correlated with LMF and negatively with RMF, but no significant positive correlations were found with maximum photosynthetic rate determined on both an areabasis (Amax) and massbasis (Amass). These findings suggest that the patterns of biomass partitioning and longterm morphological traits are better predictors of performance among trees of different Pinus species growing along an elevational gradient.

Key words: Biomass partitioning, Elevation, Growth, Photosynthesis, Pinus

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