Phenotypic plasticity of lianas in response to altered light environment
Yuan C; Wu T; Geng Y; Chai Y; Hao J
The growth morphology and biomass allocation of 11 liana species (six light-demanding and five shade-tolerant) were investigated by growing plants in three contrasting light environments (i.e. field forest edge and forest interior). Our objectives were to determine: (1) changes in plant traits at the species level; and (2) differences in light-demanding and shade-tolerant species in response to altered light environment. We found that all seedlings of liana species increased in total biomass total leaf area relative growth rate (RGR) net assimilation rate (NAR) height basal diameter root length leaf number root mass/total plant mass (RMR) and root-to-shoot dry biomass (R/S ratio) and decreased in leaf area ratio (LAR) specific leaf area (SLA) leaf size stem mass-to-total plant mass ratio (SMR) and leaf mass-to-total plant mass ratio (LMR) with increasing light availability. Under the three light environments the two types of species differed significantly in total biomass total leaf area RGR NAR LAR SLA and leaf number and not in leaf area. Only light-demanding species differed significantly in height root length basal diameter RMR SMR LMR and R/S ratio. The mean plasticity index of growth and biomass allocation were relatively higher than the morphological variables with significant differences between the two groups. Our results showed that liana species respond differently to changing light environments and that light-demanding species exhibit higher plasticity. Such differences may affect the relative success of liana species in forest dynamics.