Acta Geographica Sinica ›› 2015, Vol. 70 ›› Issue (11): 1735-1746.doi: 10.11821/dlxb201511004

• Orginal Article • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Latitudinal patterns and influencing factors of leaf functional traits in Chinese forest ecosystems

Ruili WANG1,2(), Guirui YU1(), Nianpeng HE1, Qiufeng WANG1, Ning ZHAO1,2, Zhiwei XU1,2   

  1. 1. Key Laboratory of Ecosystem Network Observation and Modeling, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, CAS, Beijing 100101, China
    2. University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
  • Received:2015-07-20 Revised:2015-08-21 Online:2015-11-20 Published:2015-11-20
  • Supported by:
    National Natural Science Foundation of China, No.31290221, No.31470506;Chinese Academy of Sciences Strategic Priority Research Program, No.XDA05050702;Program for Kezhen Distinguished Talents in Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, CAS, No.2013RC102


To explore the large-scale changes in leaf functional traits from the species level to community level and their influencing factors in Eastern China, we investigated leaf area (LA), leaf thickness (LT), specific leaf area (SLA) and leaf dry matter content (LDMC) across 847 species from nine typical forest ecosystems along the North-South Transect of Eastern China (NSTEC) between July and August in 2013, and we also calculated the community weighted means (CWM) of leaf traits on the basis of the relative dominance of each species within the community. Our results showed that, for all 847 species, the means (± SE) of LA, LT, SLA, and LDMC were 2860.01 ± 135.37 mm2, 0.17 ± 0.003 mm, 20.15 ± 0.43 m2 kg-1 and 316.73 ± 3.81 mg g-1, respectively. In addition, SLA increased and LDMC decreased with the increasing latitude, whereas no clear latitudinal trends of LA and LT were found (R2 = 0.02-0.06), as latitudinal changes were mainly affected by plant functional types. At the community level, more significant spatial patterns of leaf traits were observed (R2 = 0.46-0.71). Generally, as latitude increased, LACWM and SLACWM varied nonlinearly, while LTCWM increased and LDMCCWM decreased linearly, which were influenced by climate and soil N. This study improved the biogeographical database of leaf functional traits from tropical to cold-temperate forests in eastern China and emphasized the importance of scaling-up in the study of plant traits.

Key words: geographical pattern, leaf functional traits, community weighted mean, North-South Transect of Eastern China