Journal of Ecology and Environment

pISSN 2287-8327 eISSN 2288-1220

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Published online December 18, 2018
https://doi.org/10.1186/s41610-018-0096-x

Journal of Ecology and Environment (2018) 42:33

© The Ecological Society of Korea.

Variation in leaf functional traits of the Korean maple (Acer pseudosieboldianum) along an elevational gradient in a montane forest in Southern Korea

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

Received: November 19, 2018; Accepted: November 30, 2018

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver (http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

Abstract

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

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Journal of Ecology and Environment

pISSN 2287-8327 eISSN 2288-1220