Published online December 18, 2018
Journal of Ecology and Environment (2018) 42:33
Ki Jung Nam1,2 and Eun Ju Lee3
Department of Biology Education, Gyeongsang National University, Jinju, Republic of Korea; Institute of Agriculture and Life Science, Gyeongsang National University, Jinju, Republic of Korea; School of Biological Sciences, Seoul National University, Seoul, Republic of Korea
Correspondence to:Ki Jung Nam
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Plant functional traits have been shown to be useful to understand how and why ecosystems and their components vary across environmental heterogeneity or gradients. This study investigated how plant functional (leaf) traits vary according to an elevation-associated environmental gradient. Environmental gradients (mean annual temperature and precipitation) were quantified, and leaf traits (leaf area, specific leaf area, leaf nitrogen, leaf phosphorus, leaf carbon, and leaf C/N ratio) of the understory woody plant species Acer pseudosieboldianum were examined across an elevational gradient ranging from 600 to 1200 m in a Baegunsan Mountain in Gwangyang-si, Jeollanam-do, South Korea. The results showed that mean annual temperature and precipitation decreased and increased along with elevation, respectively. Leaf area of the plant species decreased slightly with increasing elevation, while specific leaf area did not differ significantly. Leaf nutrients (nitrogen, phosphorus, and carbon concentrations) were higher at high elevations, but leaf C/N ratio decreased with elevation.
Keywords: Altitudinal gradient; Environmental filtering; Functional traits; Leaf nitrogen; Specific leaf area