Decreased temperature with increasing elevation decreases the end-season leaf-to-wood reallocation of resources in deciduous betula ermanii cham. trees
Global air temperature has increased and continues to increase, especially in high latitude and high altitude areas, which may affect plant resource physiology and thus plant growth and productivity. The resource remobilization efficiency of plants in response to global warming is, however, still poorly understood. We thus assessed end-season resource remobilization from leaves to woody tissues in deciduous Betula ermanii Cham. trees grown along an elevational gradient ranging from 1700 m to 2187 m a.s.l. on Changbai Mountain, northeastern China. We hypothesized that end-season resource remobilization efficiency from leaves to storage tissues increases with increasing elevation or decreasing temperature. To test this hypothesis, concentrations of non-structural carbohydrates (NSCs), nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K) during peak shoot growth (July) were compared with those at the end of growing season (September on Changbai Mt.) for each tissue type. To avoid leaf phenological effects on parameters, fallen leaves were collected at the end-season. Except for July-shoot NSC and July-leaf K, tissue concentrations of NSC, N, P, and K did not decrease with increasing elevation for both July and September. We found that the end-season leaf-to-wood reallocation efficiency decreased with increasing elevation. This lower reallocation efficiency may result in resource limitation in high-elevation trees. Future warming may promote leaf-to-wood resource reallocation, leading to upward shift of forests to higher elevations. The NSC, N, P, and K accumulated in stems and roots but not in shoots, especially in trees grown close to or at their upper limit, indicating that stems and roots of deciduous trees are the most important storage tissues over winter. Our results contribute to better understand the resource-related ecophysiological mechanisms for treeline formation, and vice versa, to better predict forest dynamics at high elevations in response to global warming. Our study provides resource-related ecophysiological knowledge for developing management strategies for high elevation forests in a rapidly warming world.