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Forests 2016, 7(11), 280; doi:10.3390/f7110280

Morphological Characteristics and Water-Use Efficiency of Siberian Elm Trees (Ulmus pumila L.) within Arid Regions of Northeast Asia

1
Center for Forest and Climate Change, National Institute of Forest Science, Seoul 02455, Korea
2
Department of Forest Sciences, Seoul National University, Seoul 08826, Korea
3
School of Ecology and Environmental System, Kyungpook National University, Sangju 37224, Korea
4
Department of Forestry, National University of Mongolia, Ulaanbaatar 210646, Mongolia
5
Institute of Geoecology, Mongolian Academy of Sciences, Ulaanbaatar 211238, Mongolia
6
Institute of Applied Ecology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shenyang 110016, China
7
Institute of Future Environmental and Forest Resources, Research Institute for Agriculture and Life Sciences, Seoul National University, Seoul 08826, Korea
8
National Center for Agro Meteorology, Seoul 08826, Korea
9
Interdisciplinary Program in Agriculture and Forest Meteorology, Seoul National University, Seoul 08826, Korea
These authors contributed equally to this work.
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Jarmo K. Holopainen and Timothy A. Martin
Received: 31 August 2016 / Revised: 31 October 2016 / Accepted: 8 November 2016 / Published: 17 November 2016
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Abstract

The Siberian elm (Ulmus pumila L.) is one of the most commonly found tree species in arid areas of northeast Asia. To understand the morphological and physiological characteristics of Siberian elms in arid regions, we analyzed leaves from seven study sites (five arid or semi-arid and two mesic) in China, Mongolia and the Republic of Korea, which covered a wide range of average annual precipitation (232 mm·year−1 to 1304 mm·year−1) under various aridity indexes (AI) and four different microenvironments: sand dune, steppe, riverside and forest. The traits of Siberian elms varied widely along different annual precipitation (P) and AI gradients. Tree height (H), leaf size (LS) and stomatal area per unit leaf area (AS/AL) decreased with increasing AI, whereas leaf mass per unit leaf area (LMA) and water-use efficiency (WUE) increased significantly. In addition, trees at the five arid sites showed significant differences in LS, LMA and AS/AL but not in H and WUE. Thus, our study indicated that indigenous Siberian elm trees in arid areas have substantially altered their morphological and physiological characteristics to avoid heat stress and increase water conservation in comparison to mesic areas. However, their changes differed depending on the surrounding microenvironment even in arid areas. Trees in sand dunes had a smaller LS, higher LMA, thicker leaf cuticle layer and higher stomatal density and AS than those in steppes and near a riverside. View Full-Text
Keywords: drought tolerance; leaf size; leaf mass per area; microenvironment; stomatal density and area; water-use efficiency (δ13C) drought tolerance; leaf size; leaf mass per area; microenvironment; stomatal density and area; water-use efficiency (δ13C)
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Park, G.E.; Lee, D.K.; Kim, K.W.; Batkhuu, N.-O.; Tsogtbaatar, J.; Zhu, J.-J.; Jin, Y.; Park, P.S.; Hyun, J.O.; Kim, H.S. Morphological Characteristics and Water-Use Efficiency of Siberian Elm Trees (Ulmus pumila L.) within Arid Regions of Northeast Asia. Forests 2016, 7, 280.

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