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《Acta Ecologica Sinica》 2012-01
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Root functional traits and trade-offs in one-year-old plants of 25 species from the arid valley of Minjiang River

XU Kun,LI Fanglan,GOU Shuiyan,BAO Weikai ECORES Laboratory,Chengdu Institute of Biology,Chinese Academy of Sciences;Key Laboratory of Mountain Ecological Restoration and Bioresource Utilization,Chengdu Institute of Biology,Chinese Academy of Sciences;Ecological Restoration and Biodiversity Conservation Key Laboratory of Sichuan Province,Chengdu 610041,China  
The functional traits and distribution patterns of roots affect the amount of soil resources used by the plant.These functional traits can mirror plant ecological resource utilization strategies for capturing soil water and nutrients.Changes in root functional traits can affect important plant processes,including water-and nutrient-use efficiencies and the ability to compete for belowground resources.In this study,root functional traits and correlations among them were investigated in one-year-old plants of 25 species from the arid valley of Minjiang River.The specific objectives were to compare plants of the same age growing in the same conditions to assess the trade-offs among root functions based on correlations among different functional traits,and to define plant functional types and their adaptation strategies.Seeds of vascular plant species were pretreated and sown in March 2009 in a field at the Maoxian Station for Ecosystem Research,Chinese Academy of Science.Complete root systems were sampled by excavating the entire individual in September,2009,when plants were one year old.We measured six root functional traits;root depthmax,root width,total root length,specific root length,total root biomass,and ratio of fine/coarse root biomass.We examined the specific ecological strategies of the 25 species in adapting to the same habitat by comparing and contrasting the individual trait range and testing relationships among root functional traits.There was relatively low variability among the 25 species in terms of root depthmax(14.9%) and root width(20.7%),but higher variability in total root length(28.5%) and specific root length(34.7%).The specific root length of herbaceous plants was markedly greater than that of woody plants.Among the 25 species,there were significant differences in root biomass(total variance ratio,50.1%) and the ratio of fine/coarse root biomass(total variance ratio,70.5%).At the species level,there were significant positive correlations among root depthmax,root width,total root length,and root biomass,indicating that plants with deeper roots generated greater root width,longer total root length,and greater root biomass.In addition,specific root length was significantly positively correlated with the ratio of fine/coarse root biomass but negatively correlated with root depthmax.These results indicated that plants with higher specific root length tended to generate more fine roots but a relatively shallow root system.The principal component analysis showed that the 25 species could be divided into three functional groups,explaining nearly 80% of the total variation.The first group had larger root depthmax,greater root width,and greater root biomass;the second group had greater total root length,greater specific root length,and larger ratio of fine/coarse root biomass;the third group did not show uniform patterns for any of the six functional traits.This comprehensive analysis revealed that there was variability in the individual root functional traits among 25 different species from the arid valley of Minjiang River,and that different functional types showed various environmental adaptation strategies.Species adapt to local water and nutrient conditions either by improving water-and nutrient-use efficiencies or by decreasing root performance functions.The life-form of a given species could not predict differences in functional root traits at the one-year-old growth stage.
【Fund】: 国家自然科学基金资助项目(C030301);; 中国科学院“西部之光”项目(08C2041100)
【CateGory Index】: Q948
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