Extensive variation in fractional resorption of mineral elements from plant leaves is still not fully understood. In multi-species forest stands, species leaf fall phenology and leaf constitution may significantly modify the timing of nutrient return to the soil and overall plant nutrient loss.We studied leaf fall and nutrient loss kinetics, and leaf composition in three natural, temperate, deciduous broadleaf forest stands to determine the role of timing of leaf abscission and nutrient immobilization in cell walls on nutrient resorption efficiency of senescing leaves. Nitrogen (N), phosphorus and potassium contents decreased continuously in attached leaves after peak physiological activity during mid-season. Changes in nutrient contents of attached leaves were paralleled by decreases in nutrient contents in freshly fallen leaf litter. In different species and for different nutrients, resorption of nutrients from senescing leaves proceeded with different kinetics. The maximum nutrient resorption efficiency (the fraction of specific nutrient resorbed from the leaves at the end of leaf fall) did not depend on the mid-seasonal nutrient concentration. Species with earlier leaf fall resorbed leaf nutrients at a faster rate, partly compensating for the earlier leaf fall. Nevertheless, the litter-mass weighted mean nutrient contents in leaf litter were still larger in species with earlier leaf fall, demonstrating an inherent trade-off between early leaf fall and efficient nutrient resorption. This trade-off was most important for N. Losses of the non-mobile nutrients calcium and magnesium were unaffected by the timing of leaf fall. There was large variation in the maximum N resorption efficiency among species. Correlations among leaf chemical variables suggested that the maximum N resorption efficiency decreased with the increasing fraction of cell walls in the leaves, possibly due to a greater fraction of N occluded in cell wall matrix. We conclude that species leaf fall phenology and leaf chemistry modify the timing and quantities of plant nutrient losses, and that more diverse forest stands supporting a spectrum of species with different phenologies and leaf types produce litter with more variable chemical characteristics than monotypic stands.

Niinemets, Ü.; Tamm, Ü. (2005). Species differences in timing of leaf fall and foliage chemistry modify nutrient resorption efficiency in deciduous temperate forest stands. TREE PHYSIOLOGY, 25 (8): 1001-1014. doi: 10.1093/treephys/25.8.1001 handle: http://hdl.handle.net/10449/21647

Species differences in timing of leaf fall and foliage chemistry modify nutrient resorption efficiency in deciduous temperate forest stands

Niinemets, Ülo;
2005-01-01

Abstract

Extensive variation in fractional resorption of mineral elements from plant leaves is still not fully understood. In multi-species forest stands, species leaf fall phenology and leaf constitution may significantly modify the timing of nutrient return to the soil and overall plant nutrient loss.We studied leaf fall and nutrient loss kinetics, and leaf composition in three natural, temperate, deciduous broadleaf forest stands to determine the role of timing of leaf abscission and nutrient immobilization in cell walls on nutrient resorption efficiency of senescing leaves. Nitrogen (N), phosphorus and potassium contents decreased continuously in attached leaves after peak physiological activity during mid-season. Changes in nutrient contents of attached leaves were paralleled by decreases in nutrient contents in freshly fallen leaf litter. In different species and for different nutrients, resorption of nutrients from senescing leaves proceeded with different kinetics. The maximum nutrient resorption efficiency (the fraction of specific nutrient resorbed from the leaves at the end of leaf fall) did not depend on the mid-seasonal nutrient concentration. Species with earlier leaf fall resorbed leaf nutrients at a faster rate, partly compensating for the earlier leaf fall. Nevertheless, the litter-mass weighted mean nutrient contents in leaf litter were still larger in species with earlier leaf fall, demonstrating an inherent trade-off between early leaf fall and efficient nutrient resorption. This trade-off was most important for N. Losses of the non-mobile nutrients calcium and magnesium were unaffected by the timing of leaf fall. There was large variation in the maximum N resorption efficiency among species. Correlations among leaf chemical variables suggested that the maximum N resorption efficiency decreased with the increasing fraction of cell walls in the leaves, possibly due to a greater fraction of N occluded in cell wall matrix. We conclude that species leaf fall phenology and leaf chemistry modify the timing and quantities of plant nutrient losses, and that more diverse forest stands supporting a spectrum of species with different phenologies and leaf types produce litter with more variable chemical characteristics than monotypic stands.
Calcium
Cell wall content
Litter quality
Nitrogen
2005
Niinemets, Ü.; Tamm, Ü. (2005). Species differences in timing of leaf fall and foliage chemistry modify nutrient resorption efficiency in deciduous temperate forest stands. TREE PHYSIOLOGY, 25 (8): 1001-1014. doi: 10.1093/treephys/25.8.1001 handle: http://hdl.handle.net/10449/21647
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