Leaf functional traits are indicators of both plant community and ecosystem responses to environmental factors and can thus increase our capacity to understand ecosystem processes and community assembly due to climate change. The variation in leaf functional traits between succession stages in Horqin Sandy Land is caused by soil nutrient content and by intrinsic biological characteristic of species, but the effects are different. Leaf economic spectra were assessed for seven leaf traits of eight species from early and advanced stages of succession. Species from early succession stages are Agriophyllum squarrosum (L.) Moq., Corispermum macrocarpum Bge., Setaria viridis (L.) Beauv. and Pennisetum centrasiaticum Tzvel., and species from advanced successional stages are Chenopodium acuminatum Willd., Chloris virgate Swartz, Digitaria sanguinalis (L.) Scop. and Leymus secalinus (Georgi) Tzvel. All these species were grown in a greenhouse experiment under two contrasting nutrient supplies including high nutrient level (N , with 20 g of nutrient addition) and low nutrient level (N-, with no added nutrients). As expected, the resource uptake strategies of the species were affected by soil fertilization addition. Leaf nitrogen content (LNC), leaf phosphorus content (LPC), and photosynthetic capacity per unit leaf area (Aarea) significantly increased at high nutrient level but LPC is more dramatically changed than others leaf traits. Leaf life span (LLS) and specific leaf area (SLA) did not show similar tendency with succession stage. At the same nutrient level, LES still shows different pattern between the early and the advanced succession stages. Species from early succession stages have higher LPC and Aarea, compared to species from advanced stages. Species from early succession stage also tend to have higher SLA and higher LNC than at the advanced succession stage. The LLS did not show any clear changes with succession process. These results provide evidence that LES shift along the succession process is mainly caused by intrinsic biological characteristic of species.
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Vol. 64 • No. 1