Effects of Experimental Warming on Growth of Several Species Seedlings under Two Contrasting Light Conditions in Subalpine Coniferous Forest of Western Sichuan, China
|School||Chengdu Institute of Biology|
|Keywords||Growth Physiology Picea asperata Abies faxoniana Betula albo-sinensis Climate warming Open-top chambers (OTCs) Subalpine coniferous forest|
Enrichment of atmospheric greenhouse gases resulted from human activities suchas fossil fuel burning and deforestation has increased global mean temperature by 0.6℃in the 20th century and is predicted to increase it by 1.4-5.8℃. The globalwarming will have profound, long-term impacts on terrestrial plants and ecosystems.The ecoologcial consequences arising from global warming have also become thevery important issuses of global change research. The subalpine coniferous forests inthe eastern Qinghai-Tibet Plateau provide a natural laboratory for the studying theeffects of climate warming on terrestrial ecosystems. The light environment differssignificantly between clear-outs and spruce plantations, which is particularlyimportant for plant regeneration and forest dynamics in the subalpine coniferousforests.In this paper, the short-term effects of two levels of air temperature （ambient andwarmed） and light （full light and ca. 10% of full light regimes） on the early growthand physiology of Picea asperata, Abies faxoniana and Betula albo-sinensis seedlingswas determined using open-top chambers （OTCs）. The aim of the present study wasto understand the differences between tree species in their responses to experimentalwarming from the perspective of regeneration. Our results could provide insights intothe effects of climate warming on community composition and regeneration behavior for the subalpine coniferous forest ecosystem processes, and provide scientificdirection for the production and management under future climate change.1. The OTCs manipulation slightly altered thermal conditions during the growingseason compared with the outside chambers. The annual mean air temperature andsoil surface temperature was 5.72 and 5.34℃（within the chambers）, and 5.21 and5.04℃（outside the chambers）, respectively. The OTCs manipulation increased airtemperature and soil surface temperature by 0.51 and 0.34℃on average, respectively.Air relative humidity was slightly higher inside the OTCs compared with the controlplots, with 90.4 and 85.3 %, respectively.2. Warming generally stimulated the growth and biomass accumulation of thethree tree species, but the effects of warming on growth and development variedbetween light conditions and species. Irrespective of light regimes, warmingsignificantly increased plant height, root collar diameter, total biomass, componentbiomass （stem, foliar and root biomass） and the number of branches in P. asperataseedlings; For A. faxoniana seedlings, significant effects of warming on all the testedparameters （plant height, root collar diameter, total biomass, and component biomass）were found only under low light conditions; In contrast, the growth responses of B.albo-sinensis seedlings to warming were found only under full light conditions.Warming had pronounced effects on the pattern of carbon allocation. Irrespectiveof light regimes, the P. asperata seedlings allocated relatively more biomass to rootsin responses to warming, which led to a higher R/S. Significant effects of warming onbiomass allocation were only found for the A. faxoniana seedlings grown under lowlight conditions, with significantly increased in leaf mass ratio （LMR） and decreasedin R/S in responses to warming manipulation. The carbon allocation responses of B.albo-sinensis seedling to warming under full light conditions were similar with theresponse of A. faxoniana seedlings grown under low light conditions. Warmingsignificantly decreased root mass ratio （RMR）, and increased leaf mass ratio （LMR）and shoot/root biomass ratio （S/R） for the B. albo-sinensis seedlings grown under fulllight conditions.3. Warming generally had a beneficial effect on physiological processes of dominant tree species in subalpine coniferous forest ecosystems: （ⅰ） Warming markedincreased the concentrations of photosynthetic pigments in both tree species, but theeffects of warming on photosynthetic pigments were greater under low lightconditions than under full light conditions for the two conifers; （ⅱ） Warming tended toenhance the efficiency of PSII in terms of increase in Fv/Fm, which was related tohigher chloroplast electron transport activity; and enhance non-radiative energydissipation in terms of in increase in NPQ, which may reflect an increased capacity inpreventing photooxidation; （ⅲ） Warming may enhance photosynthesis and advancephysiological activity in plants by increasing photosynthetic pigment concentration,the efficiency of PSII and apparent quantum yield （Φ） etc. From the results, theeffects of warming on seedlings’ physiological performance varied between lightenvironment and species. The effects of warming on photosynthesis performance of B.albo-sinesis seedlings were pronounced only under full light conditions, while thephysiological responses ofA. faxoniana seedlings to warming were found only underthe 60-year plantation. These results provided further support for the observationsabove on growth responses of seedlings to warming.4. Warming had marked effects on antioxidative systems of the three seedlings.Warming generally decreased H2O2 accumulation and the rate of O2-production, andalleviated degree of lipid peroxidation in terms of decreased MDA content, whichalleviated to some extent the negative effects of low temperature on the plant growthand development in this region; Warming tended to increase the activities ofantioxidative enzymes and stimulate the role of non-enzymatic AOS scavenging,which helped to create an balance in maintaining AOS metabolites for the threeseedlings. Nevertheless, the effects of warming on antioxidative defense systems werepronounced only under the 60-year plantation for the A. faxoniana seedlings. Incontrast, the marked effects of warming on antioxidative defense systems for the B.albo-sinesis seedlings were found only under the full light conditions.In sum, warming is considered to be generally positive in terms of growth andphysiological process. However, the responses of growth and physiology performanceto warming manipulation varied between species and light regimes. Competitive and adaptive relationships between tree species may be altered as a result of responsedifferences to warming manipulation, which is one mechanism by which globalwarming will alter species composition and forest dynamics of subalpine coniferousforest ecosystems under future climate change.