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Open AccessArticle

No Ontogenetic Shifts in C-, N- and P-Allocation for Two Distinct Tree Species along Elevational Gradients in the Swiss Alps

1
Key Laboratory of Tree Breeding and Cultivation of State Forestry Administration, Research Institute of Forestry, Chinese Academy of Forestry, Beijing 100091, China
2
Swiss Federal Research Institute WSL, CH-8903 Birmensdorf, Switzerland
3
Research Institute of Forest Ecology, Environment and Protection, Chinese Academy of Forestry, Beijing 100091, China
4
SwissForestLab, Zuercherstrasse 111, CH-8903 Birmensdorf, Switzerland
5
School of Geographical Sciences, Northeast Normal University, Changchun 130024, China
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Forests 2019, 10(5), 394; https://doi.org/10.3390/f10050394
Received: 29 March 2019 / Revised: 19 April 2019 / Accepted: 3 May 2019 / Published: 5 May 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Relationship between Forest Ecophysiology and Environment)
Most of our knowledge about forest responses to global environmental changes is based on experiments with seedlings/saplings grown in artificially controlled conditions. We do not know whether this knowledge will allow us to upscale to larger and mature trees growing in situ. In the present study, we used elevation as a proxy of various environmental factors, to examine whether there are ontogenetic differences in carbon and nutrient allocation of two major treeline species (Pinus cembra L. and Larix decidua Mill.) along elevational gradients (i.e., environmental gradient) in the Swiss alpine treeline ecotone (~300 m interval). Young and adult trees grown at the same elevation had similar levels of non-structural carbohydrates (NSCs), total nitrogen (TN), and phosphorus (TP), except for August leaf sugars and August leaf TP in P. cembra at the treeline. We did not detect any interaction between tree age and elevation on tissue concentration of NSCs, TN, and TP across leaf, shoot, and root tissues for both species, indicating that saplings and mature trees did not differ in their carbon and nutrient responses to elevation (i.e., no ontogenetic differences). With respect to carbon and nutrient allocation strategies, our results show that young and adult trees of both deciduous and evergreen tree species respond similarly to environmental changes, suggesting that knowledge gained from controlled experiments with saplings can be upscaled to adult trees, at least if the light is not limited. This finding advances our understanding of plants’ adaptation strategies and has considerable implications for future model-developments. View Full-Text
Keywords: altitude; non-structural carbohydrates; nutrients; ontogeny; Pinus cembra L.; Larix decidua Mill altitude; non-structural carbohydrates; nutrients; ontogeny; Pinus cembra L.; Larix decidua Mill
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MDPI and ACS Style

Liu, J.-F.; Jiang, Z.-P.; Schaub, M.; Gessler, A.; Ni, Y.-Y.; Xiao, W.-F.; Li, M.-H. No Ontogenetic Shifts in C-, N- and P-Allocation for Two Distinct Tree Species along Elevational Gradients in the Swiss Alps. Forests 2019, 10, 394. https://doi.org/10.3390/f10050394

AMA Style

Liu J-F, Jiang Z-P, Schaub M, Gessler A, Ni Y-Y, Xiao W-F, Li M-H. No Ontogenetic Shifts in C-, N- and P-Allocation for Two Distinct Tree Species along Elevational Gradients in the Swiss Alps. Forests. 2019; 10(5):394. https://doi.org/10.3390/f10050394

Chicago/Turabian Style

Liu, Jian-Feng; Jiang, Ze-Ping; Schaub, Marcus; Gessler, Arthur; Ni, Yan-Yan; Xiao, Wen-Fa; Li, Mai-He. 2019. "No Ontogenetic Shifts in C-, N- and P-Allocation for Two Distinct Tree Species along Elevational Gradients in the Swiss Alps" Forests 10, no. 5: 394. https://doi.org/10.3390/f10050394

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